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Govt mulls flexibility for Lease Buyback Scheme

The government is looking at introducing greater flexibility to the Lease Buyback Scheme, and this could include extending or shortening the number of years of flat leases participants can retain. Details of the changes to the scheme are expected to be announced next week.

SINGAPORE: The government is looking at introducing greater flexibility to the Lease Buyback Scheme, and this could include extending or shortening the number of years of flat leases participants of the scheme can retain.

National Development Minister and MP for Sembawang GRC, Mr Khaw Boon Wan said this during his constituency's post-National Day Rally dialogue on Sunday morning (Aug 31). Currently, seniors on the scheme retain 30 years of their flat's remaining leases and sell the rest to the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The seniors can then use the proceeds to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts for annuity payouts.

Mr Khaw said many have expressed concerns about outliving the 30-year lease, but there were also those who said 30 years is "too long". "Indeed we have Singaporeans, quite a number actually, who live beyond 95," said Mr Khaw. "On the other hand, there could be people who come into the scheme at the age of 80, so they say 'why do I need 30 years of lease for?' Very few people live beyond 110 years old."

To address these concerns, the government could vary the amount of lease it buys back, depending on the age a senior joins the scheme, said Mr Khaw. Hence, someone who joins the scheme late may be able to sell the government a larger part of his lease to get a bigger lump sum, he suggested.

Details of the changes to the Lease Buyback Scheme are expected to be announced next week.

Mr Khaw added that the extension of the scheme to owners of four-room flats, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on August 17, was "very much welcomed". 

Mr Khaw was speaking to about 150 youths at the post-National Day Rally dialogue. The MP for Sembawang GRC also spoke about plans to develop the waterfront in the northern part of Singapore. "Very few towns have waterfront. Marine Parade has waterfront. We up north have waterfront. And there is potential to do up our waterfront a lot more. We have quite long-term major plans for the northern waterfront. Potentially you can actually canoe all the way from the east, from the north-east, to the Causeway and it can be very exciting."

In the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Draft Master Plan 2013, the existing Woodlands waterfront will be expanded to allow for more waterfront and park living. 

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