Parliament Highlights - 2 October 2018
PUBLISHED ON 02 Oct 2018
Ethnic Integration Policy is applied to all

The saleability of a flat in the open market is dependent on many factors; not just the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), said Minister for National Development Mr Lawrence Wong.

The EIP was introduced in 1989 to promote racial integration and harmony in HDB estates. It applies to the sale and purchase of all new and resale HDB flats and is implemented for all ethnic groups.

Mr Wong’s comments come after some minority homeowners complained that the policy have made it difficult for them to sell their flats on the resale market. He also added that there are no plans to buy back flats from owners who claim that they are unable to sell their flats due to the EIP.

"While home owners may have their own expectations of how much their flat can sell for, flat attributes such as location, storey height, physical condition of the flat, remaining lease and market sentiments would also be considered by prospective home buyers," he added.

For those who are unable to sell their flats, Mr Wong said HDB may grant them an extension of time and advise them to be realistic with their asking prices. HDB will also continue to exercise flexibility for households with exceptional circumstances.

Annual bonus for cleaners in 2020
The changes to the Environment Public Health (Amendment) Bill will make it mandatory for cleaning companies to pay an annual bonus to cleaners from January 2020.
This increase of up to four per cent in wages will benefit more than 40,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who work as cleaners. Companies that do not comply will be fined or risk losing their licences.
Other than annual bonus for cleaners, this amendment also expands the use of the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS) in Singapore. The PWCS is an automated waste collecting system, which uses air pressure to convey waste through sealed pipes, from rubbish throw-points to a bin centre.
Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor commented in Parliament: "We will upskill our environmental service workers, and improve their livelihood and working conditions."

Income Tax Act amended

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) officers can now enter premises by force or arrest someone without a warrant to investigate crimes.

Explaining the amendments to the Income Tax Act, Second Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong said that tax officers would undergo similar training programmes to those undertaken by the police to address the likely issue of abuse of power.

Others changes to the Act include allowing private-hire drivers to claim tax deductions on car-related expenses, which was previously only applicable to taxi drivers.

Ensuring safe flights
Records have shown there have been no cases of pilots consuming alcohol or drugs before boarding planes in Singapore, said Senior Minister of State of Transport Dr Lam Pin Min.

He added that while random blood testing on pilots are not carried out in Singapore, spot checks are performed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) during ramp inspections. It is an offence under the Air Navigation Order if pilots are found to be flying out of Singapore's airports under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they face a penalty of up to $100,000 and/or five years' imprisonment.

"Most civil aviation regulators, including CAAS, hold their airlines responsible for ensuring that their pilots do not operate aircraft whilst intoxicated," said Dr Lam.

Dr Lam reiterated that CAAS is reviewing regulations and procedures to strongly deter such behaviour.

He also shared that Singapore carriers have set up peer support groups for individuals who may have alcohol-related issues.

"Such peer support groups are recognised internationally as an effective measure to identify such pilots at an early stage to rehabilitate them, or to remove them from flying duties where necessary," he said.