Addendum to President's Address: MND to raise construction productivity, support public housing needs

The pace of industry transformation in the hard-hit construction sector will be quickened. PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The pace of industry transformation in the hard-hit construction sector will be quickened so that it can be on a stronger footing after the pandemic.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said made the point on Thursday (Aug 27) in his ministry's addendum to the President's Address, in which he outlined how the Government will continue to develop and invest in infrastructure even amid the Covid-19 crisis.

To raise productivity in construction and reduce reliance on manpower, advanced building technologies will be adopted. The Government will also drive research, innovation, and digitalisation across the built environment value chain, from construction to property transactions services and facilities management, he said.

Local construction and consultancy firms will also get support to help them grow and seize opportunities abroad.

Mr Lee promised to support as well the housing needs of Singaporeans in the current crisis. The MND will help households struggling financially by allowing greater flexibility in mortgage repayments, for instance. It is working on minimising delays in the completion of Build-To-Order flats, too.

"We will also monitor the housing market closely and take measures where needed to keep it stable and sustainable."

He further said his ministry will regularly review housing plans and policies to support various groups, including multi-generational families, singles and single parents.

Schemes have also been enhanced to help seniors tap on their flat's value to help them with retirement adequacy.

These schemes include the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers), which gives owners of ageing HDB flats a chance to sell their homes to the Government. Vers, which helps rejuvenate older towns too, will be a " major and complex undertaking", the minister said.

Another effort is to design HDB towns and estates to be more environmentally sustainable, and to better support residents' well-being. By 2030, the ministry plans to reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent through such initiatives as installing rooftop solar panels and smart LED lighting.

Nature will be integrated in urban areas and pathways, and building sustainability standards will be raised. Singaporeans can also have a bigger say in how they want their their communities and living environments to look like, with plans in the works to deepen community engagement and seek ideas from citizens as part of the Singapore Together movement, said Mr Lee.

He added that the Government will continue to partner the community and industry, as it pushes ahead to lay the groundwork for major projects, such as the rejuvenation efforts for the Rail Corridor and Central Business District.

Longer-term projects, such as the development of the Greater Southern Waterfront and redevelopment of the Paya Lebar Airbase site, will provide more opportunities for future generations.

"Through shared neighbourhoods, public spaces and experiences, Singaporeans can build stronger bonds and a more united community," said Mr Lee.

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