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Charge the people for land on public housing, but don’t charge “private” companies for land use?

by Brad Bowyer
We all now know that despite having an edict to provide low cost housing to Singaporeans, and the fact that we only lease the flat from the Housing Development Board (HDB) who retains the ownership, that the Land Cost gets factored in to our purchase price even though we only buy the right to use the apartment and never own the land even in those 99 years, we are long term tenants.

This is state land for a state purpose and yet doing that it adds dramatically to the cost of our housing, standing squarely against the stated need of providing low cost housing.

Not only making our homes severely unaffordable but when combined with poor Central Provident Fund (CPF) policies drains our retirement… and of course permanently takes our money because as the Minister, Lawrence Wong, himself told us the value is $0 and the flat goes back to HDB who have to return the land to the state at the end of lease.

According to Minister Khaw Boon Wan, HDB must pay market rate for the land and this is why it gets factored in to the HDB’s pricing equation although no reason of why it must pay this as it is a national asset has ever been given.

Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built on 1000 hectares of land which is 10,000,000 m2

Although we don’t have an exact number the Global Property Guide lists Singapore as having the 3rd most expensive land in the world at US$13,748 per m2 (S$18,650 per m2). Now that may be Orchard prices but as Ministry of Development (MND) development charges at Changi are about half of Orchards let’s say the land is valued at about half. (Maybe a URA/land expert can assist in clarifying?)

That would put the theoretical price of the land Changi airport will be built on at S$93.25 Billion?

So, can I ask is the MND going to charge Changi Airport Group market rate for the land the new terminal sits on or is there a double standard here and government mega projects are exempted but ordinary citizens must pay?

Oh, and on a side note Changi Jewel used to be a carpark. Sector 99 which Changi airport sits on has development charges for commercial activities, category A, set at $6,230 per sqm.

Jewel is 135,700 m2 so basic maths yields a number of $845 million. Now I know there is complex calculation involving baseline values and previous charges paid etc so the final number is much lower but the development charge for this change of use must be in the multiple millions.

Was that ever collected on behalf of the Singapore people to offset some of our tax dollars that have been spent on transport projects, especially as we are now told Jewel is a commercial enterprise by “private” companies?

If you must have double standards, why not look out for the needs of the people you are supposed to serve instead of burdening them?

This was first published on Mr Bowyer’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission