Jun 04, 2013

    HDB on track to meeting BTO goal

    THERE has been concern that policies to tighten foreign hiring might slow the construction of flats.

    Even so, the Housing Board is still on track to meet its target of 13,600 Build-To-Order (BTO) flat units to be completed this year, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

    Noting that 6,000 - or 44 per cent - of the BTO flats were completed as of last Friday, he said: "We are quite confident that the flats will be delivered as scheduled and as promised."

    Speaking on the sidelines of a handover ceremony for a completed block of the Treegrove@Woodlands BTO project, Mr Khaw explained that HDB is confident partly because "a lot of prefabrication" has been done.

    This allows HDB to keep up construction rates and offers greater control over the quality and timing of flat construction, despite any impact from the tightening on foreign hires.

    To deliver flats to residents in a timely manner, HDB said it will work on improving construction productivity by using precast technology and mechanisation, as well as closely monitor developments.

    In February, Mr Khaw expressed concern in Parliament over being unable to complete building 200,000 new homes by 2016 if there was a freeze on the foreign-worker population.

    Yesterday, he said HDB is working towards rebalancing the supply and demand of flats, to "achieve a fairer state between sellers and buyers".

    Some 25,000 flats will be launched this year, with 26,000 to 29,000 flats to be completed annually next year and in 2015.

    Mr Khaw said such a ramped-up supply of flats is to clear a demand backlog, but it would not go on forever.

    "We can't be building up a glut...because it will create new kinds of problems and many people will get hurt," he said.

    On improving the affordability of flats, Mr Khaw said: "In the last few years, affordability has worsened. So, I really want to...make sure (flats are) affordable again, certainly for three-room, certainly for four-room, and I'm talking about non-mature estates."

    This is especially important as affordability had not been an issue "for many years", he added.