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No plans for more measures to cool property market: Mah Bow Tan

(SINGAPORE) No further measures are planned to cool Singapore’s booming property market, the government said yesterday, following the end of the deferred payment scheme (DPS) for buying uncompleted private properties.

‘There is no need and there is no intention for us to take any further action,’ National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said in Parliament yesterday.

The DPS allowed homebuyers to put down just a 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the price when purchasing a property, with the rest due only upon the project’s completion.

Critics said that this was fuelling speculative activity and driving up property prices – leading to the government’s Oct 26 announcement that it was withdrawing the scheme.

When asked in Parliament yesterday if the government would look at more measures – such as increasing interest rates – to rein in property prices, Mr Mah said that no further measures are planned. But the government, he said, will continue to monitor the property market closely to ensure that property prices are supported by economic fundamentals.

He added: ‘The government will make sure that there is sufficient supply to meet the demand of private housing.’ As at the end of September, there were about 65,000 units planned or under construction, he said. Private home prices in Singapore have climbed 22.9 per cent since the start of the year on the back of a supply crunch, official data shows.

The increase in property prices and rentals has contributed to inflation hitting a 12-year high of 2.9 per cent year-on-year in August – and the figure could rise further.

During Parliament yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said that inflation could hit 5 per cent in the first quarter of next year.

Mr Mah told Parliament that while it is too early to ascertain the overall impact of withdrawing the DPS, he is confident that the move will pay off.

‘I believe that over time, the withdrawal will encourage homeowners to be more financially prudent and dampen some of the speculative activity in the market,’ he said.

In the longer term, the withdrawal will encourage the property market to grow in a healthier and more sustained manner, he added.

The DPS was introduced in 1997 when the economy was in recession and the property market was slow.

Before the end of the scheme, up to 90 per cent of buyers in some high-profile projects launched by Singaporean developers were opting for such payment schemes, reports have said.

The government said that ending the scheme would compel investors to have enough funds or bank loans available before they agree to buy properties.

 

Source: Business Times 13 Nov 07

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