Photo of Lawrence Wong from Ngau Kai Yan CNA

Commenting on the government buyout of old HDB flats reaching end of lease, Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong told state media CNA that Singaporeans should not expect to have “big payout” from the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) programme:

“All of us, including the media, (have) to make sure that we don’t play up expectations of the market or … get people all excited and too overly exuberant … thinking that this will help to prop up the resale market. They should also avoid speculating in the market hoping for a big payout at the end of the day.”

The VERS was first announced during the National Day Rally earlier this month by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. With no idea how the VERS is going to work out, the PM tried to improve his beleaguered premiership by claiming that the government will bail out every HDB flat reaching end of lease. The clueless retiring PM however said that he has no idea how the VERS will work, and that the programme will only take place 20 years later.

Many Singaporeans, especially the ruling party supporters, were delighted to hear that the VERS programme will be like the en bloc equivalent, and expected a windfall from the government. Their celebration were however doused as Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong clarified that the government is not going to pay market rate for the old HDB flats as seen in the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

The millionaire Minister also revealed that the government’s Lease Buyback Scheme is unpopular with Singaporean elderly, saying that it is “only an option” when Singaporeans need cash for retirement:

“The take-up rate is not very high but it gives elderly homeowners peace of mind should they need to unlock some value from their property for retirement. It’s not really about the numbers because not everybody may want to take up this option … But making the option available to every flat owner will … give assurance that whatever happens … there’s always this option that you can exercise.”

Singaporean elderly’s retirement is currently in jeopardy with more than 47% of the population unable to meet the Minimum Sum requirement in 2017. The CPF retirement system was laden with legalised corruptions that saw its interest rate depressed at 2.5% for over 15 years and its minimum sum increasing nearly tripling from S$80,000 to S$181,000.