Where forth art thou?: Staying Together, Moving ahead?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Staying Together, Moving ahead?

Since young, I have always known Singapore to be a multiracial society made up of at least 4 races. However our current Prime Minister's speeches give me the impression that there are only 3 significant racial groups in Singapore.

That aside...

20 years ago, the general population's salaries were in the range of 4 figures and HDB flat prices were in the range of 5 figures. Now salaries are in the range of 4 figures and HDB flat prices are in the range of 6 figures. I shudder to think what it would be like 20 years from now when salaries remain in the range of 4 figures and HDB flat prices climb up to 7 figures.

Singaporeans have grown to become heavily dependent on bank loans and compounded interest rates make the cost of living all the more expensive. I am not talking about owning luxury items, but rather the essential items. I am talking about the cost of education (5 figures for a university degree). I am talking about owning a place of our own (6 figures!). Only a very privileged few earn a 6 digit a month salary and thus we are forced to borrow from the banks. We work hard, to clear our debts but the more money we make, the more we have to pay in the form of taxes. We are trapped in a vicious cycle.

Our policy makers are obviously oblivious to our needs. With their 6 digit a month salary, I cannot imagine how they can ever understand how average singaporeans try to cope, just to own a place we call home. We have been told that HDB flats are subsidized. I find that hard to believe, especially when we get no satisfactory answer when we press for the breakdown of costs of HDB flats. If you were to tell me that HDB flats were subsidized when they were still in the price range of 5 figures, I would have believed you.

But when Singaporeans have to fork out >$200,000 for a 4 room HDB flat now and are still being made to believe that HDB flats are being subsidized, all I can say is this:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Anonymous said...

It all depends on how you interpret "subsidy". To the government, it might be the "discount" you get when buying direct from HDB compared to buying a similar HDB property in the secondary market.

To greedy people who already have the privilege of buying direct from HDB, nothing will satisfy them except buying at cost price.

Think about singles who are not even eligible to buy direct from HDB. Are they complaining as much, if not at all?

Anonymous said...

Think if compared to other countries we are paying much less. I've had friends from the states who were amazed when they found out I paid around $20000 for my degree, which is like a quarter of what they pay, and our taxes and stuff are definitely much lower.

Maybe there is a lack of transparency in terms of the subsidies for HDB flats. However, it is also undeniable that it is below market prices. It's unlikely such prices will exist if it was left to the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Politics is bullshit I tell ya...

Anonymous said...

Inflation is partly the cause of the increase in prices as it affects the inputs for building a flat such as contruction labor and building material.

As you already said 20 years ago, 4 figure salary 5 figure prices. Movie ticket prices have probably tripled over the past 20 years. While your point on how housing cost is affecting the less economically well off population is valid. This is tradeoff for keeping wages low and thus competitive (in some ways to retain foreign companies to keep the blue collared work in Singaore, keeping mind the lower cost structure in Indonesia, China, India and Malaysia) but on the other hand, individuals from the less economically well off population will feel a greater pinch. Hence, the government has to balance keeping unemployment low while offering low cost housing to everyone in Singapore.

While HDB flat prices have increased, their quality have undoubtly became better. For public housing, HDB is probably one of the best in world for its quality and price. Consider the playgrounds and the nice landscape accompanying new HDBs, they are quite impressive.

Lastly, for those who obtained their first flat via application and later resell the flat in the resale market, usually a decent profit is made just because, the price via application is much lower than the price from buying off the resale market. Perhaps, its important to bear in mind that land is in scarce in Singapore.

seowqj said...

Wanna get a lower cost of living???
Come to Malaysia :D.



Anonymous said...

You want the best of both world ? Live in JB , work in Singapore.