Monday, April 8, 2013

No delay to construction of BTO flats despite foreign worker tightening policy: Khaw


Channelnewsasia.com  |  08 Apr 2013 4:32 PM
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the tightening on foreign worker policy will likely impact the HDB, although there has been no delay to the construction of HDB's BTO projects so far.

SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the tightening on foreign worker policy will likely impact Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB), although there has been no delay to the construction timeline for HDB's BTO projects so far.

Replying to questions in Parliament, Mr Khaw said the foreign worker tightening policy will impact the construction industry in two ways.

First, the man-year-entitlement (MYE) quota for new projects will be further reduced by 15 per cent in July 2013, bringing the cumulative MYE cut since 2010 to 45 per cent.

Second, the foreign worker levy will be further increased in phases over 2014 and 2015, with the exception of the levy for higher skilled workers employed within the MYE quota.

These measures aim to steer the industry towards skills upgrading, mechanisation, and streamlining workflow to improve productivity and reduce its reliance on foreign workers.

Mr Khaw added that during the process of adjustment, construction time and cost may be affected.

He said: "Let us forget about 'we will go back to the good old, bad old days of free availability of cheap unskilled foreign workers.' We just got to press on with the job of raising productivity and the tightening is necessary.

"Yes, there is heavy pressure on us to deliver on building more HDB flats, MRT trains and so many other infrastructure projects but we have to work together as a team to try and achieve the productivity which has been achieved in other countries."

Mr Khaw also explained that if any contractor is unable to proceed with the construction work, HDB will consider allowing the contractor to novate the contract to another contractor. HDB could also terminate the employment of a non-performing contractor and engage a new one to complete the remaining work.

Regardless of which option is adopted, Mr Khaw stressed that delivering flats to Singaporeans on time will remain HDB's priority.

Mr Khaw added that HDB should be less affected as it uses prefabrication construction extensively, which helps to raise productivity and reduce on-site labour requirements.

Currently, 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the super-structure of HDB projects is constructed with precast components.

He said that HDB will be monitoring the situation closely.


Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

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DTZ Property Network Pte Ltd (L3007960A)
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