Budget 2017: Singapore to have affordable resale HDB flats for first-timer couples

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat says the change takes place "with immediate effect".

HDB flats in Singapore
A view of a newly constructed public housing estate in Singapore Reuters

Singapore's Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget statement on Monday that first-timer couples who need a resale Housing Board flat will get more subsidies to do so. Heng said the change takes place "with immediate effect".

The CPF Housing Grant, which was previously capped at $30,000, has been raised to $50,000 for couples who purchase four-room flats or smaller from the resale market and to $40,000 for those who buy flats that are five-room or bigger. However, such couples can end up receiving up to $110,000 in subsidies with both the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Proximity Housing Grant (PHG).

According to AHG rules, applicants can get up to $40,000 depending on their income, while the PHG gives up to a further $20,000 for those who live near their parents. The measure will cost the Government an additional $110 million a year.

Heng said that most couples apply for highly subsidised Build-to-Order flats. But he added that some couples have to turn to the resale market. "For others, a resale flat may better meet their needs. Some may wish to live near their parents. Some may prefer to move earlier into their own home," he told The Straits Times.

The minister added that young families will get more help to purchase their first home while the other eligible first-timers will be benefitted from grant enhancements. But, the details related to this would be announced later.

Heng said the capacity of centre-based infant care will be increased up to 8,000 by 2020 in order to meet the growing demand. At present, there are about 4,000 infants enrolled in such centres which equivalents to 8 per cent of the total infants in Singapore.

The 2017 Budget will also increase the annual bursary amounts for students who will be attending post-secondary education institutions like junior college or ITE.

Heng said this will be increased up to $400 more for undergraduate students, up to $350 for diploma students and up to $200 for ITE students. He added that existing bursaries "already more than cover" the course fees for ITE students.

The ministry has also revised the income eligibility criteria to receive such bursaries. Around 12,000 more Singapore students are expected to benefit from the bursaries that will eventually bring the total number of beneficiaries to 71,000. In total, the cost of such beneficiaries will increase from about $100 million to $150 million.