Committee of Supply 2024: Housing and TFR

Mr Chairman,

The BTO scheme was introduced in 2001 after the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 resulted in HDB being left with a large stock of unsold flats. One major downside of the BTO scheme is longer waiting times of four years or more.

Young Singaporeans are marrying later and many of them want to have their own homes before marrying or having children. Furthermore, fertility declines with age. This means that the longer waiting time will have an adverse effect on our TFR. Although resale flats and private properties are options for couples to get their homes faster, their prices are much higher and beyond the reach of many. Our TFR has fallen to 0.97 in 2023. This is less than half of the replacement rate of 2.1 and has serious economic and social consequences. How can we adjust our housing policies to arrest the falling TFR and support parenthood?

PSP had proposed the Millennial Apartments Scheme to provide interim rental housing to young people to address this problem. My colleague, Mr Leong Mun Wai, has spoken on this in greater detail earlier.

PSP would also like to propose two other policy changes for consideration which can help young Singaporeans start their families earlier.

One, increase the number of flats with Shorter Waiting Times where flats are built in advance in a departure from the BTO approach to half of the projected annual demand based on marriage and immigration numbers. HDB is currently building about 20,000 units per year on average, but only 2,000 to 3,000 are Shorter Waiting Time flats.

Two, lower the age limit for singles to buy HDB flats to 28 and allow them to buy new 3-room flats. This way, when they find the right partner, they can start their family immediately if they already own a flat.

Low TFR has troubled us for very long. The political will to implement major changes is needed if we really want to turn it around.