Discrimination against Private Home Owners

Discrimination against Private Home Owners

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Roland Tan started this petition to Minister of Finance

To SIRS for rejection of applications on grounds of property ownership,

Many Singaporeans have heeded the government's call to work hard and to upgrade to private home ownership. In the past two decades, many have become private home owners and some have even acquired second properties. In all the past budgetary handouts as far back as Year 2007 i.e. GST Offset Vouchers, Workfare Bonuses, Work Income Supplement, tax reliefs etc, private property home owners have always been excluded which is probably based on the fallacious belief that if one owns a private property or two, one must have been sufficiently well-off to be weaned off government support. Besides, there is no basis to delineate based on private property and HDB dwelling as there are many factors why one opts to remain in a HDB flat or move on to a private property citing our President Halimah Yacob as a good example of one who lived in a Yishun jumbo flat before she moved on to Istana. In my view, I do not think that is any indication of her inability to afford a private home. One overlooks the fact that banks are really the legal co-owners of private properties in vast majority of cases where huge mortgage loans are outstanding. In recent years, it is not uncommon to see eye-popping valuations of HDB flats that even surpass private apartments' prices. Hence, my proposal to abolish the use of property dwelling type as a criterion in any consideration for government's budgetary financial support initiatives.

More specifically, during this COVID period, many self-employed individuals like myself, have been struggling to keep our income afloat. This SIRS scheme came as a welcome relief but its application criteria was anything but. 

(1) "Live in a property with an AV not more than $21,000" -  Not realistic, should be based on current potential rental value, not Year 2019, given the sharp economic downturn. Granted that the government has revised the AV from $13,000 to $21,000 subsequently which was commendable but this is still far from being inclusive.

(2) "Do not own two or more properties.The individual and spouse together do not own two or more properties" - Many exceptional cases can fall into this category as in divorced cases, dysfunctional homes, property disputes which should be given fair consideration. On matters relating to property ownership, there are often a myriad of issues involved than meet the eye; they are very legitimate issues to deal with which the above blunt criterion fails to do justice.  

In summary, it is high time we do away with HDB and private home ownership as an eligibility criterion when it comes to allocating budgetary payouts. The amount of help a household requires certainly does not depend on such simplistic metrics. Other pertinent factors eg. number of dependents (including special needs children, aged parents, chronically ill members), the sandwiched generations, the structure of the family unit, stability of income, mortgage loans etc. must also be taken into account which are quite independent of the dwelling type which they own.

Practically speaking, unless the government can devote resources (as with the recent spate of SIRS applications and appeal cases) to be more meticulous in its assessment of borderline eligible applicants, it is more expedient to broaden and simplify its criteria for any budgetary financial support. My SIRS appeal to NTUC (refer above screenshot of the email) has been an arduous task as a case in point. I am not suggesting a carte blanche handout but a distribution that is fairly inclusive across all segments of society. If one wants to provide help earnestly, there should not be too many hurdles and even then, some of which are dated. Property ownership is one of those. 

Thank you for your kind consideration.


Yours faithfully,

Mr Roland Tan 

 

 

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