Forum: Hard to justify private gain which does not benefit broader public, Forum News & Top Stories

Mr Foo Sing Kheng’s letter about public housing in prime locations drew several parallels between public housing subsidy, education subsidy and the lottery, which was very interesting (Asset appreciation a centrepiece policy of the Government, June 3).

While it is true that the typical university graduate receives more subsidies than a polytechnic student, the university graduate earns more, resulting in a higher income tax quantum. That is the “subsidy clawback” from the Government.

The million-dollar Housing Board flat beneficiary does not have to pay the seller’s stamp duty as long as the minimum occupation period requirement is fulfilled.

Other property transactions which involve seller’s stamp duty are taxed on the basis of their sale price.

The university graduate who reaped private gain from the public’s largesse makes an equitable contribution back to the state’s coffers; the lucky prime-area HDB flat owner does not. Moreover, it is not fair to justify skyrocketing HDB flat prices by comparing them to the lottery.

Everyone can buy a Toto ticket; not everyone can purchase an HDB flat. Profits from the sale of Toto tickets are also used to subsidise the public good.

In this case, HDB unintentionally uses public funds to subsidise the profits of HDB flat owners who win the proverbial lottery of living in a prime area.

How private gain that also causes the broader public to suffer from less affordable public housing can be justifiable is highly confusing. HDB housing is not, and should not be, a lottery.

HDB is globally lauded for improving equity among Singaporean residents, and public housing in Singapore ought to stay true to the mission of providing affordable public housing for all.

Davin Ng Ming En

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