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Parliament in brief: 3 things you should know

SINGAPORE — Public housing for first-time applicants and singles, technology firm Dyson’s cancelled electric-car project in Singapore, as well as the environmental impact of the Cross Island Line were discussed in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 5).

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the market for Build-to-Order flats was opened to singles “not that long ago” — in 2013 — and the ministry is still trying to clear the backlog.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the market for Build-to-Order flats was opened to singles “not that long ago” — in 2013 — and the ministry is still trying to clear the backlog.

SINGAPORE — Public housing for first-time applicants and singles, technology firm Dyson’s cancelled electric-car project in Singapore, as well as the environmental impact of the Cross Island Line were discussed in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 5).  

The following are the key highlights of the parliamentary session.

1. Application rates for BTO flats 

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that Singaporeans applying for their Build-To-Order (BTO) flat for the first time in non-mature estates should likely be able to successfully ballot for one by their third try. 

This is because first-timer families who were unsuccessful in their first two applications in non-mature estates would be given one more ballot chance for future applications in such estates. 

Mr Wong was responding to a supplementary question by Ms Lee Bee Wah, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency, on whether the Housing and Development Board (HDB) could help young couples who have not been able to ballot for BTO flats in non-mature estates after trying three times. 

Mr Wong said: “Many times, (the applicants) tell you they can’t (get a flat), but when you check through their applications, very often, they have tried for a mature estate or they have tried for one (under HDB’s Sale of Balance Flats exercise), so those don’t count.”

Ms Lee also asked if more can be done to help singles obtain a flat faster, especially for those who have applied for a flat in a non-mature estate unsuccessfully at least three times.  

Mr Wong said that the market for BTO flats was opened to singles “not that long ago” — in 2013 — and the ministry is still trying to clear the backlog. 

The application rate for singles to get a two-room “flexi” flat under the available HDB schemes is three times in the first half of this year. This is higher than when compared with the overall application rate of 1.6 times in the same period. 

Singaporeans who are singles are able to apply for a two-room flexi unit during a BTO launch only when they are 35 years old and older. They cannot ballot for HDB flats that are three-room or bigger. 

Mr Wong acknowledged that this application rate for singles is “on the high side”, but added that the rates have gone down over the years. 

In 2013, applications rates for singles were at a high of 37.6 applicants for one flat. 

“We still fundamentally have to build more flats, and then stabilise the situation before we can consider any priority for that matter for first-time applicants who are singles,” Mr Wong said. 

2. Dyson axing its electric-car project 

The decision by British electronics firm Dyson to scrap its electric-car project here was not because of any lack of capabilities on Singapore’s part, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said. 

He was replying to Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa’s question on what could have contributed to the cancellation of plans.

“Dyson decided not to continue with its EV (electric vehicles) manufacturing… this is a business that it was thinking of going into and later, it decided that it would not be viable commercially for the company to continue, so they have stopped their plans to go into this area.”

Mr Chee also said that any tax incentives or grants that could have been provided to Dyson in return for investing in Singapore through its electric-car project has not been given because the project “has not taken place”. 

“With the decision by Dyson not to continue with this EV business, the incentives will therefore not be given for this project. 

“For other projects that Dyson has already started or it is planning to expand some of their activities in Singapore, that is something which we will look at separately,” he added. 

3. Further assessment of environmental impact of Cross Island Line 

There are no plans to conduct another environmental impact assessment for a segment of the Cross Island Line near the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Dr Janil Puthucheary said. 

The Senior Minister of State for Transport was responding to Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan’s question on whether a final assessment study will be done to consider the “holistic impact” of developing the MRT line before the Government decides which of the two alignment options it will choose to undertake. 

One option is to let a section of the line run beneath the nature reserve, while another option is for the line to skirt around the nature reserve, which would cost S$2 billion more (based on a government estimate in 2016) and increase travel time by six minutes due to the slightly longer route.

Two phases of the environmental impact assessment have already been completed. The first phase concluded that the site investigation works could be carried out with moderate impact on the nature reserve. 

The findings of the second phase concluded in September this year, which assessed that both alignment options are feasible with appropriate mitigating measures.

Related topics

Parliament HDB BTO flats Dyson tax Cross Island Line environment

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