Did you know? The tourism industry is a growing industry in Iskandar Malaysia. LEGOLAND Theme Park has surpassed its 1 million visitor arrivals as of 15 September 2013 and this is expected to increase with the opening of LEGOLAND Hotel. This presents a great opportunity to invest in hotel suites. Find out more details with data from Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) at my talk on 1 March in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Sign up here. Light refreshments will be provided. http://eepurl.com/OzYyb
More help on the way for the low and middle-income families
Expect no changes to the property cooling measures, more help for the low-to middle-income families and more steps to take care of senior citizens – that is the takeaway from today’s Budget 2014 announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
The property curbs, particularly the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) introduced in July last year, have worked to reduce sales volumes and transactions.
It takes into account existing loans, making it even more difficult for property investors to obtain housing loans.
As a result, prices of private residential properties fell for the first time since the first quarter 2012.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Private Property Index (PPI) decreased by 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to reach 214.3 points.
For the whole of 2013, developers sold 14,948 units, significantly lower than the 22,197 units sold in 2012.
In the HDB market, the Resale Price Index (RPI) fell by 1.5 percent from 204.8 points in the third quarter to 201.7 points in the fourth quarter of 2013.
For the entire 2013, the RPI registered a decline of 0.6 per cent – the first annual decline since 2005.
Meanwhile, zero or low cash-over-valuations are now the norm.
Collectively, the cooling measures seem to have worked effectively to ensure property prices remain affordable for all.
A more polarised society?
Singapore has over the years, become an increasingly polarised society defined by the haves and have-nots.
In early 2000, the government introduced various immigration policies and tax incentives to attract the wealthy to make Singapore their home.
The city is currently home to Jim Rodgers and Eduardo Saverin.
The tiny city-state also has a special zone called Sentosa Cove with the tagline: “The world’s most desirable address”.
Wealthy foreigners applying to buy homes on Sentosa Cove can get fast track approval from the Singapore Land Dealings (Approval) Unit.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, the city-state boasts the highest concentration of high net worth individuals in 2012 at 16 percent.
In less than a decade, the city has become a playground for the rich.
Interestingly, during the same year, Singapore’s income inequality, also defined as the Gini coefficient, was the second highest after Hong Kong among developed economies at 0.478 points.
That, however, had eased in 2013 according to recent government data to 0.463 points.
Budget 2014 – a more caring government?
The measures announced by Mr Tharman earlier today seem to indicate that the government is listening to the growing voices of discontent and is prepared to do more to narrow the income gap.
In fact, it appears more help is on the way to help the less well-off.
One of the measures is a one-off GST Voucher-U-Save Special Payment this year to help low and middle-income families deal with the high cost of living in Singapore.
Those living in smaller HDB flats will also be given a helping hand in the form of housing rebates.
This means the lower income will have more cash in hand to cope with day-to-day living expenses.
Mr Tharman said around 800,000 flat dwellers are expected to benefit from the rebates.
Another reprieve the government has given is the rebates for the Service & Conservancy Charges, ranging from one to three months.
Families living in one- and two-room HDB flats will get the most help with three months worth of rebates for this year.
Meanwhile, three- and four-room households will receive two months of rebates.
There is no way to tell how poor the really poor are in Singapore as there is no clear definition on the official poverty line.
However, a recent BBC report about the poor in Singapore shows just how far some in society have been left behind despite the country’s economic success.
“In this house no one can afford to fall sick at all,” said Nurhaidah Jantan who was quoted in the report.
Mahatma Ghandi once said: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
Now, that is something worth pondering on the current state Singapore is in.
This article was first published by PropertyGuru Singapore.
Did you know? Medini is the only area in the entire Malaysia to be granted reprieve from the various property cooling measures announced in October for Budget 2014. Find out more at my exclusive talk on 1 March 2014 in Selangor. Light refreshments will be provided: http://eepurl.com/OzYyb
Move set to give Bintan Airport economic boost and serve as a gateway to Riau
Bintan Island is set to get an added economic and tourism boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 11 February 2014 between Gallant Venture Ltd and Garuda Indonesia Tbk.
Responsible for developing the special economic zone of Bintan Resorts, Gallant Venture’s MOU with the national carrier will better connect the tourism destination with major cities in Indonesia, provide an international visitor gateway into Riau and develop Bintan as a significant aircraft maintenance centre for Garuda’s fleets and its alliance partners.
The MOU was signed by Mr Eugene Park, CEO of Gallant Venture and Mr Emirsyah Satar, CEO of Garuda Indonesia at the Singapore Airshow 2014.
According to Bintan Resorts International, the agreement between the two companies will see the development of vital air links, both locally between Bintan and the rest of Indonesia, as well as international destinations.
Under the agreement, both sides will also co-operate on a dedicated airport terminal for Garuda Indonesia to serve the carrier and its partners.
On the part of Garuda Indonesia, the national carries will promote Bintan as an international tourism destination and support to develop its connectivity both outbound and inbound.
The integrated airport terminal will connect to an adjoining ferry terminal which will handle ferry connections in the region, including BatamIsland and Singapore.
Adjoining the Airport area, will be the Bintan AerospaceIndustryPark which is within the free trade and special economic zone.
This is expected to give beneficial enhancement for commercial operations of the aviation industry.
Bintan Resorts International said with this development, Bintan Resorts is set to be even more accessible and desirable as a tourism destination and an attractive investment location for those keen on tapping into the fast expanding travel and tourism markets in the Asia Pacific region.
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Chief minister of Johor YAB Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Nordin officially launches Smart and Healthy City and Community Programme at Taman Seri Austin.
Iskandar Malaysia’s vision as a green and sustainable metropolis received an added boost over the weekend thanks to the fresh injection of funds from Putrajaya.
According to YAB Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Nordin, the chief minister of Johor, the federal government has allocated RM1.5 million to upgrade and provide cycling lanes and pedestrian pathways in Iskandar Malaysia.
Speaking at the launch of cycling lanes, pedestrian pathways, and two recreation parks in Taman Seri Austin, Johor Bahru over the weekend, Dato’ Mohamed Khaled said this is inline with the vision of Iskandar Malaysia as a green metropolis.
“The State Government has also allocated RM100,000 for this initiative, which is one of the many carried out under the Smart and HealthyCity and Community Programme,” he said.
The two parks are believed to be the first of such parks in Iskandar Malaysia that has been gazetted as smoke-free parks.
Under the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) environmental blueprint, the custodian of this special economic zone has specifically set out plans and goals to ensure Iskandar Malaysia will be a bustling yet green metropolis guided by principles of sustainable development.
These include biodiversity and habitat conversation, air quality management, climate change management and even green economy to reduce carbon footprint.
In line with a more eco-friendly Iskandar Malaysia, IRDA said the programme is aimed at enhancing Johoreans’ quality of life, and “to achieve a sustainable economic and technological ecosystem that would ultimately create smart, connected and inclusive communities.”
“I believe programmes like this will encourage the rakyat to lead a healthier lifestyle and get involved in fitness activities such as jogging and cycling,” said Dato’ Mohamed Khaled.
Meanwhile, IRDA chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said that the programme is a translation of IRDA’s objective of developing Iskandar Malaysia as a smart, healthy and green metropolis.
He also said that focus group discussions involving local community members and cyclists will be held today to gain feedback from the users on the effectiveness of the programme.
“We look forward to hearing from the participants as to how we can help improve the programme and in making it sustainable for the community,” said Datuk Ismail.
Taman Seri Austin was the first urban community to be selected for the Smart and HealthyCity and Community Programme.
Apart from cycling and walking for 10,000 steps, participants at the event received free ear, nose and throat checks, and dental treatment provided by the State Health Department.
There was also an exhibition on Smart and Healthy City and Community held during the launch.
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