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DBSS – ‘Overpaid’ by 550 million dollars?

by: Leong Sze Hian/
with contributions from: Ravi Philemon/

The Ministry of National Development's (MND) replied today in a letter titled, "Ministry to review DBSS housing option" (Straits Times, 22 June 2011) to another letter in the Straits Times Forum, "Four questions on DBSS" (dated 21 June 2011).

In her reply Ms Lee May Gee, Deputy Director, Housing Division, MND said that "Land for DBSS flats is sold via open tender to private developers." This statement begs the asking, "how much money has been made from selling such 'HDB' land to private developers?"

Ms Lee goes on to say in her reply that "DBSS flat buyers are indeed subsidised by the Government, but (that) they receive their subsidy directly through the Central Provident Fund housing grants." Since not everybody may be eligible for such grants, can the MND give the breakdown of how many people actually received such housing grants, and how much it was?

While MND's at it, please do also let us know how much was the total money made from such lands sales, compared to the total housing grants?

By saying "so far, 5,500 DBSS units have been built and sold (and that) they make up a small proportion of public housing, but are well appreciated by the buyers“, Ms Lee seems to have given a clue as to how much more the private developers and HDB may have made from Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

The article 'Prices slashed after DBSS flats uproar' in The Straits Times (dated 22 June 2011) says that the private developers are lowering the prices of its Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats at Centrale 8 in Tampines by more than $100,000 because of the public outrage.

What this would suggest is that, even after slashing the selling price, the private developers may make a tidy profit from DBSS.

If we do a simple calculation and multiply the excess profit made by the private developer of this development being $100,000, by the 5,500 DBSS flats sold, it may mean that buyers have 'overpaid' by over 550 million dollars for these DBSS flats.

Would MND please clarify how much profits in total have HDB and the private developers made from DBSS so far?

Singaporeans have been complaining about the issue of DBSS pricing policy for years. It is good that the Minister for National Development has now heard the public outcry on this issue, has stopped making statements like "DBSS is not HDB", and has agreed to review the DBSS housing option as part of the overall review of housing policies.

Let's hope that in this overall review of housing policies, MND would re-focus HDB back to its roots; that of providing subsidised and affordable housing for all Singaporeans.