SINGAPORE – The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Housing Board’s results by reducing the amount of red ink on its balance sheet over the past fiscal year.
Its deficit fell to $ 2.34 billion for the 12-month period to March 31, from $ 2.66 billion the year before.
Indeed, fewer units were released to buyers throughout the year as construction work was hampered by the pandemic.
The new apartments are heavily subsidized by the HDB, so fewer completed apartments mean less expenditure.
The reduction in modernization work also helped reduce the deficit, noted the HDB’s annual report, Thursday (October 14).
However, more housing assistance from the Central Provident Fund (CPF), rental allowances and suspension of late payment fees on mortgage arrears were granted to help households throughout the year.
The HDB recorded a deficit of $ 2.64 billion in its housing programs, offset by a surplus of $ 303 million from other activities, such as rental income.
There were 8,124 units completed and delivered to buyers, compared to 11,609 the previous year, mainly due to two-month breaker construction suspensions in 2020 and the gradual resumption of work after the measures were lifted.
The deficit for upgrading existing apartments also fell from $ 440 million to $ 242 million.
There was $ 791 million distributed in CPF housing grants to buyers of resale apartments and executive condominiums, up from $ 631 million the previous year.
Aid to households living in rental apartments such as rent cuts and suspension of late fees amounted to $ 125 million, up from $ 115 million the previous year.
The HDB also suspended more late payment fees for homeowners who were having difficulty repaying their home loans on time.
Its deficit in this area was $ 31 million compared to $ 21 million the previous year.
The finance ministry subsidy that the HDB receives each year to offset its deficit was $ 2.34 billion compared to $ 2.69 billion the previous year.
Cumulative government grants to HDB since its inception in 1960 now amount to $ 38.57 billion.
About 80% of the population of Singapore lives in HDB apartments, of which about 90% own their accommodation.
Persistent construction disruption due to the pandemic has resulted in long delays for buyers in Build-To-Order (BTO) projects.
The pandemic has meant that the completion of most BTO apartments has been delayed by up to six months, some delayed by seven to 10 months.
The wait time for a standard BTO project, from booking to key collection, was around three to four years before the pandemic, but has now grown to just over four years.