SINGAPORE-The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has advised government agencies to take a sympathetic view when considering extension of time requests for project delays due to the coronavirus outbreak, said Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad.
"We have also sought Redas' (Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore) support for private sector developers to do likewise," he said. "If delays are prolonged, we will consider whether additional measures are necessary," he added.
To ease cash-flow concerns from such delays, main contractors can also submit progress payment claims fortnightly instead of monthly for public sector projects, Mr Zaqy said.
For ongoing prefabricated pre-finished volumetric construction (PPVC) projects affected by delayed supplies of construction materials from China, BCA has allowed 13 projects to install partially-completed PPVC modules onsite first, and install the finishing works subsequently when the delayed materials arrive, he said.
PPVC is a building method where large modules complete with finishes are made in factories, and assembled on site.
For those firms that have more workers from China and that may also face a manpower shortage in the short term, they may consider hiring workers from other firms with excess foreign labour. Firms can search for eligible workers for transfer via the Foreign Construction Workers Directory System online, Mr Zaqy said.
Built environment firms can also tap on support packages such as the SME working capital loan under the enhanced enterprise financing scheme, and on the Jobs Support Scheme.
Mr Zaqy also responded to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), who had suggested measures to help developers and contractors cope with the outbreak.
On foreign worker levies, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo had said during the Budget debate last week that levies for employers with eligible foreign workers serving quarantine, leave of absence or stay home notices will be waived.
"However, we have not done so for all foreign workers in general. As much as we want to help businesses to deal with the short-term fallout, (the measures) should not negate longer-term efforts for companies to restructure and become less reliant on foreign manpower," Mr Zaqy said.
"Levy waivers would run counter to these objectives," he added.
On questions from Ms Lee and Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) about the project completion period and the additional buyer's stamp duty remission timelines, Mr Zaqy said that the Government is monitoring the construction industry and the property market closely.
"We will adjust our policies as necessary to ensure a stable and sustainable property market," he said.
"We have selectively allowed extensions of the completion period for individual projects because of extenuating circumstances, and would be prepared to consider doing so on a case-by-case basis."