Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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COE distribution reflects higher car ownership proportion among non-HDB residents in Singapore

SINGAPORE — The distribution of Certificates of Entitlements (COEs) between public and private housing residents was the topic of a recent parliamentary question by Nonconstituency Member of Parliament, Ms Hazel Poa.

The question, directed at the Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran, inquired about the proportion of COEs allocated to Housing Development Board (HDB) dwellers over the past decade.

In his response, Mr Iswaran clarified that around 70% of COE holders in 2013 were HDB residents. This figure decreased to 55% in 2019 and has stabilized at approximately 60% over the past three years.

According to Housing Development Board’s website, “With more than 1 million flats spread across 24 towns and 3 estates, the Singapore brand of public housing is uniquely different. The flats spell home for over 80% of Singapore’s resident population, of which, about 90% own their home.”

Conversely, non-HDB residents, comprising about 20% of the population, accounted for 40% of the COEs during the same period.

This distribution of COEs indicates a significantly higher propensity for car ownership among the non-HDB residents compared to those residing in HDB flats.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had earlier announced an increase in the COE quota from 9,575 to 10,431 for the current quarter, which spans from May to July.

Notably, Category A will witness a 24% increase in quota, and Category B will see a 15% increase for the remaining five bidding exercises for this quarter.

This increase comes after COE premiums hit record highs in previous weeks, with Category A for small cars exceeding the S$100,000 mark for the first time on April 19.

The COE prices, a pivotal indicator of Singapore’s automotive market, recorded a general decline in the recent tender concluded on Wednesday, July 5.

However, Category A, allocated to smaller cars and electric vehicles (EVs), saw a slight increase of 0.83% from S$96,206 to S$97,000. In contrast, COEs for larger engine vehicles witnessed a 2.48% drop from S$121,000 to S$118,002.

COEs under the Open category, applicable to any vehicle type except motorcycles, registered a decrease of 1.63%, sliding from S$123,000 to S$121,000.

The commercial vehicle COE price also experienced a minor dip of 1.1%, dropping from S$83,140 to S$82,223. The most significant drop was noted in the COE premium for motorcycles, which decreased by 5.78% from S$10,709 to S$10,090.

Commenting on the Transport Minister’s response and the ongoing trend of soaring COE prices, Mr Leong Sze Hian reflected, “Given the continuous record highs of COEs and the increasing proportion of HDB households relative to private ones, particularly as the number of new HDB flats outpaces that of new private properties, we are witnessing a notable shift in our societal fabric.”

“If this trend persists into the future,” Mr Leong continued, “we could see an inevitable outcome where there are proportionately fewer HDBs relative to private residences. This outcome is a direct result of our current COE system and policy.”

He added, “Put differently, one could view this as the aspiration to own a car gradually becoming a fading dream for those residing in HDB flats.”

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