SINGAPORE – The Covid -19 pandemic has affected the Housing Board’s earnings by reducing the amount of red ink on the balance sheet during the past financial year.
Its deficit decreased to $ 2.34 billion in the 12 months to March 31 from $ 2.66 billion the previous year.
This was due to fewer units being handed over to buyers throughout the year, as construction work was hampered by the pandemic.
New apartments are heavily subsidized by HDB so fewer finished apartments are translated into a smaller expense.
Reduced upgrade work also helped reduce the deficit, HDB’s annual report noted on Thursday (October 14).
However, more housing grants from the Central Provident Fund (CPF), rent rebates and suspension of late fees on arrears of housing loans were issued to help households throughout the year.
HDB reported a $ 2.64 billion deficit in its housing programs, offset by a $ 303 million surplus from other activities, such as rental income.
There were 8,124 units completed and delivered to buyers, a decrease from 11,609 the year before, mainly due to construction shutdowns in the two-month-long switch 2020 and the gradual work again after the measures were lifted.
The deficit for upgrading existing apartments also fell, from $ 440 million to $ 242 million.
$ 791 million in CPF housing allowances were paid to buyers of second-hand apartments and condominiums, from $ 631 million the previous fiscal year.
Assistance for households living in rental apartments, such as rent rebates and suspension of late fees, amounted to $ 125 million, compared to $ 115 million the year before.
HDB also suspended more late payment fees for owners who had difficulty paying their mortgages on time.
Its deficit in this area was $ 31 million compared to $ 21 million the previous year.
The Ministry of Finance grants HDB each year to compensate its deficit was $ 2.34 billion, compared to $ 2.69 billion the previous year.
The cumulative government grants that HDB has received since its inception in 1960 now amount to $ 38.57 billion.
About 80 percent of Singapore’s residents live in HDB apartments, of which about 90 percent own their homes.
Constant construction disruptions due to the pandemic have led to long delays for buyers in BTO (Build-To-Order) projects.
The pandemic has meant that the completion of most BTI apartments has been delayed by up to six months and some has fallen by seven to ten months.
The waiting time for a standard BTI project from booking to key collection was about three to four years before the pandemic, but this has now expired to just over four years.