Construction sector needs to able to take on future 'black swan' events: Desmond Lee

The construction sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the fallout from the pandemic.
The construction sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the fallout from the pandemic.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The construction and built environment sector has to be more integrated and resilient to take on future "black swan" events as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Tuesday (Sept 29).

The future scenarios include the highly infectious Disease X that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned in Parliament earlier this month, he added.

Adopting more advanced building technologies, driving digitalisation and looking at the approach towards the procurement and management of construction supplies are some ways the sector can become more integrated and resilient, Mr Desmond Lee said.

"This will also help us to enhance productivity, allow us to build and maintain our city more effectively and sustainably," said Mr Lee at a virtual Mid-Autumn celebration organised by the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas). Key industry players in the real estate sector joined in the celebration.

Mr Lee pointed out that real estate developers will play a key role in any effort to transform the industry.

"We look to you to continue your research and innovation efforts and to promote the adoption of new processes, technology and designs," said Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration.

He said it is "encouraging" that many developers in Singapore are at the forefront of green development, but there is potential to do more as buildings account for 20 per cent of Singapore's carbon emissions.

The construction sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the fallout from the pandemic, contracting 97.1 per cent from the first to the second quarter.

The Government has launched a $1.36 billion Construction Support Package to help cushion the impact.

Property developers have also been granted a six-month extension on the project completion period for eligible residential, commercial and industrial developments.

Eligible individuals will have one year instead of six months to sell their first residential property to qualify for remission of additional buyer's stamp duty for their second property.


"We hope that with the relief on these requirements, developers will be able to focus on supporting our contractors and minimise delays to projects," said Mr Lee.

"What we seek to ensure is that no one in the built environment value chain has to bear an undue share of the burden imposed by Covid-19."

Redas president Chia Ngiang Hong described the temporary relief measures as timely in helping the sector cope with the challenging situation.

He said: "However, with progress of construction still relatively slow, we hope the Government will consider extending additional reliefs and flexibility to assist the real estate and built environment sectors. This will allow all parties affected to better plan ahead and work out revised contingency plans."