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Housing, rising interest rates and Woodlands Checkpoint power outage to be discussed in Parliament

Four government Bills are set to be introduced, including amendments to the Penal Code and the Constitution.

Housing, rising interest rates and Woodlands Checkpoint power outage to be discussed in Parliament

A general view of Parliament House in Singapore on Sep 23, 2022. (File photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: Housing, rising interest rates, and the Woodlands Checkpoint power outage are set to be discussed in Parliament on Thursday (Oct 20). 

According to the order paper released on Wednesday, four government Bills will be introduced, including one to make amendments to the Penal Code and another to amend the Constitution of Singapore.

The Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill will also be introduced.

Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised more than 50 questions on a range of topics. Besides housing, interest rates and the power outage at the checkpoint, other questions include the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation packages and registered foreign doctors in Singapore.

HOUSING

MPs raised questions about housing, including the recently announced property cooling measures and shortening the wait time for a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat.

Last month, the Government unveiled a slew of property cooling measures aimed at moderating demand and ensuring prudent borrowing amid rising interest rates.

This includes tightening the maximum loan quantum limits and a new 15-month wait out period for private home owners buying Housing Board (HDB) resale flats.

MP Alex Yam (PAP-Marsiling-Yew Tee) asked how many Singaporeans are estimated to be affected by the new wait-out period, and what assistance was provided to those caught out by the new measures.

MP Denise Phua (PAP-Jalan Besar) also asked if the Government will consider advance construction of more BTO projects to shorten the waiting time of first-time applicants. 

Questions were also raised about the impact of rising interest rates and how they affect homeowners. MP Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) asked if the Government might consider assisting those affected by the rising rates.

MPs also filed questions about the power outage at Woodlands Checkpoint on Oct 9. The power outage caused issues with immigration clearance for several hours in the early hours of the morning.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said the outage was due to the failure of a backup generator during maintenance of the checkpoint’s main power source.

MP Gerald Giam (WP-Aljunied) asked what measures the Home Affairs Ministry have in place to ensure all border checkpoints are able to continue their essential functions in the event of an extended power outage. 

MP Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) also wanted to know the measures taken to ensure the resilience of Singapore's immigration checkpoints against power failures.

Other MPs also asked questions about the Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation packages and how much of the Budget was set aside for each of them. 

The remaining government Bill to be introduced at the next sitting is the Housing and Development (Amendment) Bill.

According to a Facebook post by National Development Minister Desmond Lee, the amendments will lower the threshold of support needed from shop owners from the current 100 per cent consensus to 75 per cent in order for upgrading works to common areas to proceed.

This comes after a study to see how the Government can better support heartland shops.

Source: CNA/lk(mi)
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