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Panel may examine Lease Buyback Scheme to ease concerns

SINGAPORE — The Pioneer Generation Joint Committee could look into the Lease Buyback Scheme — extended recently to four-room flats — and possible options to assuage some concerns that may remain, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who chairs the committee.

SINGAPORE — The Pioneer Generation Joint Committee could look into the Lease Buyback Scheme — extended recently to four-room flats — and possible options to assuage some concerns that may remain, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who chairs the committee.

Under the scheme, participating seniors retain 30 years of their flat’s remaining lease and sell the rest to the Government, with proceeds used to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts for annuity payouts. The extension of the scheme — announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Aug 17 — opens up the asset monetisation option to more than half of all flat owners here, although the take-up rate before the extension has been low.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah, who chairs the committee set up by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and self-help group Mendaki to honour pioneer Malays, said the concern over outliving the 30-year lease is a common one and an area the Government can provide more clarity on. On the other hand, there are also seniors who want to retain shorter leases, she noted.

One option, Mdm Halimah said, could be to allow greater flexibility in the duration of the lease retained by home owners under the scheme.

She was speaking to reporters after a post-National Day Rally dialogue held yesterday with about 150 Malay-Muslim community leaders. Five other Malay-Muslim People’s Action Party Members of Parliament also took part. The dialogue was held at the Canberra Community Club in Sembawang and chaired by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.

Housing and retirement were among the top concerns at the dialogue, Dr Yaacob told reporters after the session. “Top on their minds were the needs of the older generation and how they can retire.”

Participants wanted to know how much they could get from the Lease Buyback Scheme and what would happen if they outlived the 30-year lease under the scheme, among other details, he said.

“Our response to them is, we will certainly study this together with the Housing and Development Board,” Dr Yaacob added. “I think this is a real ground-up concern because the Malay community has high home ownership and therefore want to see how they can monetise their flat without losing it altogether, or a place for them to stay.”

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