Sunday, February 3, 2013

More boos than cheers on the ground in response to the White Paper

"Please don't worry", assured MND Minister Khaw
Feb 01, 2013

Imagine Singapore in 2030 with a 6.9 million population - that’s what many Singaporeans tried to visualize but find it tricky to materialize the thought due to deep concerns for sustainability.

Questions kept them up at night, and are hardly convinced that the government’s plans to cope with the growing numbers could offer much relief to the already overcrowded state in the country. Inherent problems such as soaring home prices and transport costs, competition for jobs and high cost of living are issues that have always remained at the hearts of many Singaporeans, and are now even more apparent in the face of what the White Paper forecasts.

On a street interview of 100 people one day after the publication of the White Paper, exactly half rejected the notion of Singapore having 6.9 million people, while another 35 remained unsure. Only 15 supported the government’s idea.

The surge in numbers for foreigners flooding the country is expected to reach 2.3 million to 2.5 million by 2030, up from the current pool of 1.49 million. This brings Singaporeans to ask, “Where are these people going to stay? Will homes be affordable then?” Even though land has been set aside to build 700,000 new HDB homes by 2030, one-third of those interviewed raised their concerns for possible escalation of prices in the property market. There is no escaping the fact that prices will climb when driven by strong demand, hence the concern for another property bubble.

Yes, more homes will be built but are they going to shrink in size?

Some suggested the government to raise the income ceiling and keep a lid on home prices for people who want to qualify for housing subsidies. Others were worried that the sizes of new HDB flats would model after shoebox apartments. Mr. Ganeesan Packrisamy, a 50 year old driver was spotted saying, "The Government says it will build more homes. But what is the point if they are all much smaller, like the homes in Hong Kong? Our quality of living will go down."

"Please, don't worry", says Minister Khaw.
As if expecting adverse reactions from the ground, National Development Minister, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan defended the White Paper by saying that it was a “legitimate reaction” for Singaporeans to think that “the planners must be mad.” While addressing naysayers, he replied, “Of course, they ask good questions like, ‘How can you be sure? More population, but quality of life will remain the same or in fact be even better? Actually the answer is yes, it’s possible.” He said that it all comes down to careful planning and if we can “plan sensitively and invest in infrastructure ahead of demand, we can have a very nice city life.” So, "please don’t worry,” assured Minister Khaw.

Singaporeans have spoken up to address their concerns. Fact is, how is the government going to convince its people that everything will be well taken care of amidst an uncertain economic outlook? Well, it all remains to be seen. After all, there could be changes in the span of 17 years to 2030.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

Senior Sales Director
DTZ Property Network Pte Ltd (L3007960A)

No comments:

Post a Comment