Pearls Centre owners compensated with ex-gratia payment

Shop owners and residents at Pearls Centre in Chinatown were compensated on Wednesday for their units, which are being acquired by the Government to make way for tunnelling works on the Thomson MRT Line.

Besides the statutory compensation, which is based on the market value of the property as assessed by private valuers, the property owners were also given ex-gratia payments to "mitigate the financial impact of the acquisition exercise", said a press release from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Last year, owners of commercial and residential units at the 99-year leasehold building had asked the authorities for more compensation, taking into account the 43-year-old building's potential en bloc value.

They said they had set up a sale committee about three months before the Government's acquisition announcement in September.

Ms Indranee Rajah, Member of Parliament (Tanjong Pagar GRC) said: "There were a few owners who submitted excessive claims, including some that were two to three times the market value. It was not possible to meet these claims, bearing in mind that the compensation is paid out of public funds, and no justification was provided for the excessive claims. However, the total compensation, including statutory compensation and ex-gratia payment, met or exceeded the majority of the other claims."

The SLA said all affected property owners will receive an advance payment of the compensation before they hand over their property to the Government.

Residents there will also not be subject to the recently implemented rules on housing loans limits when they buy their replacement property. In addition, those who are eligible to apply for new HDB flats will not have to wait out the 30-month debarment period imposed on former owners of private property.