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HDB's grant disbursement system to be automated

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The Housing Board's grant disbursement system - which, among other things, determines an applicant's eligibility - is being automated.

The updated system will be able to accurately assess eligibility even when applicants fail to declare material information to HDB, such as ownership of property or alternative income streams, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said in Parliament yesterday.

His remarks were made after the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in July found that housing grants totalling $405,000 were disbursed to 13 ineligible applicants.

Mr Lee said HDB has taken immediate steps to recover Central Provident Fund (CPF) housing grants that were erroneously given to 12 ineligible applicants. One of the applicants flagged by AGO was correctly assessed, he added.

The AGO's findings came after it carried out a data analysis of resale flat buyers who had applied for and obtained either the Family Grant or Singles Grant from April 1, 2018, to Sept 30 last year.

Of the 22,627 who had applied for a total of $807.77 million in family or singles grants, the AGO noted that 1,152 applicants might not be eligible for either of them.

The AGO test-checked 97 of these applicants and found 13 ineligible ones among them.

The eligibility status of the remaining 1,055 applicants flagged by the AGO is being verified by HDB. Checks should be completed by the end of the year and the results will be reported, said Mr Lee.

The Family Grant gives up to $50,000 to married or engaged couples and families who are buying a resale flat for the first time, while the Singles Grant gives up to $25,000 to single applicants aged 35 or above.

Yesterday, Mr Lee said grants were wrongly disbursed to 12 applicants who had failed to declare material information to HDB, such as their actual income and private property ownership.

The omissions were not detected in the verification checks.

In response to questions by Workers' Party's Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC), Mr Lee said the non-disclosures in each case will be looked at individually.

HDB assesses each grant application by manually verifying, among other things, the declared incomes against the documents submitted by the applicants and their flat occupiers.