SINGAPORE: The Government will not rule out the possibility of giving private developers a role in the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS), Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday (Sep 10).
Responding to a question from MP Cheryl Chan, Mr Wong said the Government already “inject(s) some private development” in the redevelopment process for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).
But he stressed that the Government’s aim is to redevelop public housing estates. “So we will ensure that any redevelopment is done in a way that preserves the character of our HDB towns, and supports HDB’s mission to provide affordable and quality homes for Singaporeans,” he said.
Ms Chan had previously suggested in a media report that HDB can consider having precincts selected for VERS to be potentially redeveloped by private developers. She had pointed out that doing so could make VERS an attractive option for homeowners, subjected to certain conditions.
A number of MPs also raised supplementary questions related to VERS, which would allow HDB flat owners to vote on whether or not they want their flats to be sold back to the Government for redevelopment at around the 70-year mark of their lease.
This includes questions about the guidelines by which precincts are selected for VERS, the percentage of votes needed to qualify for the scheme, and how much advance notice the HDB would give residents if their precincts were selected.
However, Mr Wong said that while he understands MPs and residents’ concerns, it would be premature to talk about the details at this point, as the Government is currently undertaking a “thorough study” on how to go about implementing the scheme.
“These are issues that we will study, and we will take into consideration timelines, ensuring that if and when we are ready for VERS, we provide adequate time to notify the residents who are affected,” he said.
Mr Wong also added that the SERS programme would not be held back or delayed, in light of the VERS announcements.
“We have already selected many of the sites with high development potential,” he said. “I think there are a few more sites, and we will continue to implement SERS in the coming years.”
In response to a question from MP Denise Phua on the possible acrimony between neighbours as a result of VERS, Mr Wong said that he is mindful of the concern, but the process of getting votes for upgrading is not new to the HDB.
“We do have a mechanism to get residents to vote for upgrading,” he said. “We have some experience, we will build on that experience, we will see what has been done in the private sector, and we will work out the best possible arrangement for VERS.”