Screenshot of Lawrence Wong from Facebook

In his first media interview ever since he became the Minister of National Development (MND) for over a year, Lawrence Wong said that HDB built-to-order (BTO) flats will still have to wait 2-3 years the soonest.

Addressing the common complaint of waiting up to 4 years for a HDB BTO flat, MND Minister Lawrence Wong said he can only shorten it by 1 year for only some development by bringing construction schedule ahead of HDB launches. Not all sales launches can be shorten, he said.

In Singapore, HDB BTO flats are booked in sales launches made prior to construction. Due to the undersupply of housing in Singapore, such sales launches are usually fully booked even when the waiting time could be 4 years.

When queried about the “asset appreciation” policy adopted by his predecessor Mah Bow Tan, the new MND Minister has taken an U-turn approach and said that he will implement stricter resale conditions “to mitigate any windfall effect from the resale profits”. The Minister claimed that Singaporeans are striking a lottery when they sold their HDB flats for a profit.

“There will be a bit of a lottery effect because whoever gets it will be very lucky and there will be… more than a bit of a windfall effect for that person too, because they will have a huge appreciation potentially.”

The Minister also mentioned that he might consider extending the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) from the current 5 years, and even shorten the 99 years lease of HDB flats.

To address this in a “fair and equitable” way, the Government will look at potentially selling future public housing within the city under a different model, be it implementing a longer MOP from the current five years, or a shortened lease from the 99 years now.”

Minister Lawrence Wong also said he might increase the resale levy to discourage “profiting”.

There is no mention of housing affordability and HDB pricing in the interview, even though mounting mortgage debt – stretching as far as 30 years – are jeopardising retirement of Singaporeans.