More than 17,000 BTO units to be launched in 2022, higher than this year's supply: Desmond Lee
SINGAPORE: The number of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats planned for 2022 will “certainly” be higher than the 17,000 units that are set to be launched this year, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee in Parliament on Monday (Jul 26).
He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) who asked if the Housing and Development Board (HDB) can increase the supply of BTO flats in the next three years to make up for the construction delays due to COVID-19.
Mr Lee said BTO launches have been ramped up over the years to meet the needs of young families including "echo boomers" or the children of baby boomers.
HDB is on track to launch 17,000 flats this year, which is higher than the 16,800 flats launched in 2020 and 14,600 units in 2019, he said.
This is despite long construction delays and manpower challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For next year, we're still looking at demand and keeping track of the property market, and we will announce the figures for next year's launch soon," said Mr Lee.
“Having said that, we do not see that we will reduce the number of flats launched next year - and certainly, it will be above 17,000 flats."
Demand for BTO flats has risen over the years, with the overall number of applications received for each unit rising from 2.3 in 2017 to 5.8 in 2020, said HDB in a recent media release.
Demand was particularly strong for new flats in mature estates – application rates swelled from 2.8 per flat to 6.7 in the same period.
HIGHER COSTS WILL NOT BE PASSED DOWN TO BUYERS
Apart from delays, construction costs have also gone up due to the pandemic, noted Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How in Parliament.
This is due to factors such as an increase in manpower costs due to border measures limiting the entry of migrant workers, as well as additional costs as a result of safe management measures.
Support measures rolled out by the Government, such as wage offsets, have helped mitigate some cost increases, said Mr Tan.
Nevertheless, he noted that prices for public sector construction projects, including public housing and upgrading work, have “generally increased” this year, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“We recognise that public housing projects are necessary to serve the needs of Singaporeans, so we will press on to deliver these projects, and maintain a steady supply of public housing to meet demand," he said.
“The increase in cost will not be passed down to flat buyers."
DEMAND FOR GREEN BUILDINGS
Mr Tan added that the rise in construction costs has not hurt demand for green buildings.
In fact, the gross floor area of developments applying for Green Mark certification has remained “steady” at around half of overall construction demand since 2018, he said.
The Green Mark certification refers to a system that evaluates a building’s environmental impact and performance.
“One possible explanation is that the cost premium of fulfilling the Green Mark requirements is small in proportion to overall construction costs, at less than 5 per cent for most projects.”
In addition, energy savings from greening buildings could outweigh the upfront investment costs, he said.
Mr Tan also emphasised that despite construction delays in the immediate term, Singapore will press on with its long-term plans for sustainability.