Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't sell flat for funds, says Mah

His comments come a day after law is passed to close loophole exploited by moneylenders

HOME owners desperate for cash should look at other options to raise the funds rather than resort to selling their flats, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said yesterday.

'They will have to find other sources of funds as... the whole (home ownership) scheme was designed to provide affordable, good quality homes for them, not to use that as a collateral or source of funds for other uses - whether for business or other things,' he said.

Mr Mah's comments came a day after a housing Bill was sped through Parliament and passed to close a loophole which had allowed moneylenders to lodge caveats on HDB flats to claim a stake in sale proceeds.

In the past year or so, there has been a spike in the number of moneylenders who exploited a legal loophole that allowed them to file caveats. This was the reason the Bill had to be passed urgently, said Mr Mah yesterday.

He noted that although there was nothing to stop owners from selling their flats prematurely to raise funds, public education was crucial in explaining to people why they should not do so.

'We've always been telling people to be prudent, 'don't sell your flat unless you have alternatives'... that's always been our message.

'(If) they lose their flats, the roofs over their heads... where will they live, where will their children live?

'We've decided to be prudent as far as HDB flats are concerned, (so) if you want to raise funds for business and other things... look for other sources of funds.'

Mr Mah was speaking on the sidelines of the Ministry of National Development (MND) scholarship ceremony. The ministry awarded 39 undergraduate scholarships out of 1,490 applications it received. Building and Construction Authority scholarship holder Lee Si Min, 19, who is going to Cambridge University to study engineering, said she had always been fascinated by buildings and wanted to work in a related field. 'Being part of the ministry will enable me to contribute back to society when I've finished my studies,' she said.

The ministry also awarded 12 postgraduate scholarships. The courses covered by all the scholarships are diverse, from agricultural economics to civil engineering, and sociology to urban planning.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Mah highlighted the recently concluded World Cities Summit hosted by Singapore where policymakers and industry professionals converged to discuss issues on governance, sustainable cities and fostering harmonious communities.

'Just two generations ago, this would have been a most improbable feat for us... Once, some might have regarded us a tropical cesspit. Today, many parties... rank Singapore among the top 25 most liveable cities in the world,' he said.

He urged the scholarship holders to 'work hard, study hard, discover yourselves and find your passion'.

'One day, we will welcome all of you back, joining us in this common journey to make Singapore a better home for all of us,' he said.

Source: Straits Times, 21 Jul 2010