Redas calls for review of property tax policies in Budget 2017

Redas has called for a review of Singapore's property tax policies for the upcoming Budget.
Redas has called for a review of Singapore's property tax policies for the upcoming Budget. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) has called for a review of Singapore's property tax policies among other suggestions for the upcoming Budget.

Redas is asking the Government to reduce property tax for vacant land, exempt the tax on land slated for or under development and buildings undergoing renovations, give tax concessions for vacant properties and make the valuation process more transparent.

It also proposed that the current basis of tax assessment for vacant land be reviewed to reflect the land's lease term.

Other items on its Budget wish list include improving transparency in the property valuation process, reducing business costs and regulatory fees and special training grants to enhance maintenance skills and technical expertise.

Redas president Augustine Tan said its proposals come amid concerns that geopolitical and economic uncertainties could hurt the property sector and the economy, and are aimed at helping firms contain costs and ensure business sustainability.

"Negative sentiments can weigh heavily on the property market should there be a confluence of recessionary factors and destabilising events. This will in turn adversely affect Singapore's economy," Mr Tan said at the association's Chinese New Year luncheon on Friday (Feb 10).

Notably, Redas did not ask the Government to review or ease property cooling measures.

But Mr Tan said that all segments of the property market continue to reel from the "persistent oversupply, rising vacancy rates and weak demand".

New private homes transactions have plunged by 50 per cent from 15,900 units in 2011 to just under 8,000 last year, he said.

Despite the uptick in sales at recent property launches, it is "still too soon to conclude that a market recovery is in sight", said Mr Tan.

"The 2017 outlook remains murky with uncertainties surrounding global geopolitics and macroeconomic developments. With the weakened labour market, slower growth in employment and earnings, declining population growth, coupled with the prospect of rising interest rates, the current slowdown is expected to continue into 2017," he said.

This year's Budget will be announced on Feb 20.

Redas also said it looks forward to contributing to key areas drawn up by the committee on the future economy, including developing digital capabilities for the real estate industry and tapping opportunities in urban logistics.