Singapore contractors present their own wish list for Budget 2017

Singapore Contractors Association has asked for some public sector projects to be brought forward to tide over the decline in private sector demand.
Singapore Contractors Association has asked for some public sector projects to be brought forward to tide over the decline in private sector demand.PHOTO: ST FILE

As construction firms brace themselves for a tough year ahead, the Singapore Contractors Association (Scal) has submitted a list of Budget recommendations urging policymakers to help reduce business costs and step up demand through public works projects.

The sector faces challenges in the form of "tightening manpower, rising costs, stiffer regulatory controls and lower margins amidst stiffer competition", said Scal in a statement.

In view of this, one of the association's recommendations to the Finance Ministry is for the Government to hold off raising foreign worker levies this year.

It also asked for some public sector projects to be brought forward to tide over the decline in private sector demand.

Another recommendation involves the Government procurement and tendering process. Scal asked to introduce a separate budget provision for workplace safety and health in the tendering process, instead of having firms factor these costs into the total budget.

 

This would encourage construction companies to pay closer attention to workplace safety and not cut corners.

"The construction industry is undergoing economic restructuring driven largely by tightening foreign manpower policies," said Scal president Kenneth Loo.

"Many contractors are working and have succeeded in raising productivity.

"However, our members continue to face persistent challenges, which we have highlighted, and hope that the Government will take into consideration our recommendations to mitigate and cushion the impact as the industry continues to explore new and innovative ways to do business."

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'What builders hope to see in Budget'. Print Edition | Subscribe