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Parliamentary Replies

Impact of Revised Land Allocation and Pricing Framework for Places of Worship on Past Reserves

03 Jul 2023

Parliamentary Question by Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether the revised land allocation and pricing framework for place of worship will have any impact on past reserves; (b) if so, what is the projected long-term impact; (c) whether the Government will consider implementing a similar pricing allocation framework for the land component of HDB flats; and (d) if not, what accounts for the difference in treatment of the two types of property.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong:

Mr Speaker, my response will also address PQ 4705 filed by Mr Gerald Giam, due for reading at a subsequent Sitting as it relates to the same subject matter. 

Places of Worship (“PW”) play an important role in serving the spiritual needs of Singaporeans and maintaining religious harmony. Over the years, Religious Organisations have raised concerns about the rise in prices of PW land.  The Government has studied the issue, and decided to change the framework for allocation of PW land from a competitive tender process to a fixed price ballot. This reflects a fundamental change in the land allocation approach for PW land, which impacts how the market for PW land is defined and valued.

Without competitive tender prices, the Government will have to work out the appropriate fair market value (FMV) for PW land. The Government has discussed this with the Chief Valuer (CV), and the CV intends to use as reference the price of directly alienated PW land that had not been influenced by tender prices before. Of course, the actual FMV of any PW land will ultimately depend on its individual characteristics, and will be determined independently by the CV, based on established and accepted valuation principles.  There will not be any draw on past reserves, so long as the land is disposed of at the FMV.

In the case of public housing, the land is directly alienated to HDB, and the value of the land is also determined by CV based on his professional judgement and established valuation principles. But there is a key difference between PW sites and HDB flats. PW sites allocated to a religious organisation cannot be freely sold to other parties. HDB resale flats, on the other hand, are purchased and sold all the time in the open market. These resale transactions provide the CV with up-to-date market data to make his independent determination of the FMV of any public housing land.  It would therefore not be appropriate for the CV to use a different basis for valuation, unless there is a fundamental change in housing policy.