Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Make it easier for people to live closer to workplace

17 November 2012

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

The Strategic Planning Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority said that
more commercial and industrial hubs will be developed out side of the Central 
Business District to provide more jobs "closer to the homes" and to "reduce traffic
congestion" ("Commercial nodes distributed islandwide, ST 17 Nov 2012).

I suggest that a more holistic approach be taken to deal with the challenges 
of accommodating a larger population within a small island. Apart from 
providing jobs closer to the homes, we should make it possible for people to 
live closer to their workplace, so as to reduce time and expenses
of commuting.

For decades, the government policy was to encourage people to own their 
homes. After investing in their homes, many people have to commute long distance
to their workplace. This adds to the congestion on our public transport and roads.

Why not make it easier for people to rent their homes, by making more rental homes
available and reduce the fiscal disincentives towards renting? It will be easier for the tenants  
to move their homes closer to their workplace on the expiry of the lease. 

We can look at the example of Switzerland, where a high proportion of their citizens rent, 
rather then own, their homes.

For those who have already bought their homes, we can make it easier for them to sell their
homes and buy a new home closer to their workplace, by waiving the stamp duty and 
reducing the cost of legal and other cost of transaction.  

While this may not suit all families, some families who find this approach to be workable. We need 
various measures to work together to solve the problem holistically.

Tan Kin Lian

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