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Minister for National Development (MND) Lawrence Wong has received approval to spend an additional S$63 million a year for his oversight on failing HDB lift infrastructure. Announced yesterday (Feb 2), the MND will increase spending to S$220 million a year for town councils to help maintain and replace existing HDB lifts.

The S$63 million falls under a “Lift Maintenance Grant” that provides up to S$600 spending per lift, that is aimed to “ease the pressure to increase service and conservancy charges (SnCC) in the coming year”. However SnCC charges will continue to increase for residents.

PAP Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Zainal Sapari confirmed that SnCC will increase:

“An increase in service and conservancy charges was needed. We have made our projections and we really need more funds, especially our sinking fund, in order to do cyclical maintenance. With the new grants, we need to relook at it and perhaps the increase will not be as much compared to without the grants.”

Echoing the increase, Marine Parade GRC MP Lim Biow Chuan said:

“An increase in S&CC was very likely before the two grants were announced, and it would now review its financial situation again. The need to ringfence funds under the Lift Replacement Fund would hurt the town council’s finances quite a bit.”

In the past, town councils are supposed to save for lift replacements and maintenance. However, Minister Lawrence Wong underestimated the amount of sinking fund required to ensure HDB lifts are in working order. The S$1.1 million-a-year minister hence has to get additional taxes to pay for the works.

MND Minister Lawrence Wong had fallen out of the Prime Minister race after he was eliminated from the ruling party Central Executive Committee.