BTO projects 'to be delayed' by a year or more, says Wong

Victor KangMay 12, 2021

Build-to-Order (BTO) housing projects to be delayed by one year or even more amid the tightened COVID-19 border measures. 

Education Minister Lawrence Wong expects the completion of many Build-to-Order (BTO) housing projects to be delayed by one year or even more amid the tightened COVID-19 border measures, which affects the construction sector, reported Channel News Asia (CNA).

BTO flat delays: Should You Buy a Balance Flat (HDB SBF/Open Booking) or a Resale Flat?

These measures include a ban on long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as longer Stay-Home Notice periods for travellers coming from higher-risk countries.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (11 May), Wong said the measures will hit contractors “especially hard”, while private home buyers may face varying lengths of delay.

“Likewise companies in the marine and process sectors will be badly affected. They will find it hard to deliver their existing projects on time, and a few may even have to forgo new opportunities and projects,” said Wong, who is also the co-chair of the multi-ministry task force dealing with COVID-19.

“These are important sectors that we have taken decades to build – they hire thousands of Singaporean engineers and executives, and remain crucial sources of highly-skilled jobs,” he added as quoted by CNA.

The manpower crunch brought about by the tightened measures is expected to have a cascading effect on the whole economy, said Wong. A company seeking to bring in workers from higher risk countries, for instance, face considerable delays since an entry approval could take more than six months, he noted.

“Our big concern is that if companies continue to face difficulties or are forced to close, we could then end up with higher unemployment and job losses for Singaporeans,” he said.

Wong described the control of border measures as a “dynamic process”, one that is based on the assessment of the COVID-19 situation of each country.

He revealed that Changi Airport sees about 200,000 arrivals daily prior to the pandemic. This figure plummeted to 820 travellers per day by November 2020, before increasing to 1,200 arrivals per day between December and March this year.

Wong attributed the hike to the city-state accepting more foreign domestic workers (FDWs) as well as migrant workers in the construction, marine and process (CMP) sector. 

Despite the increase, the number of CMP workers allowed into Singapore is still not enough to meet the city-state’s needs.

“Because every day, every week, every month, many migrant workers have left to go back to their home countries. Whatever numbers we are bringing in barely replace those who have left,” he explained.

With this, he said the government will extend more support to the CMP sector, which includes higher foreign worker levy rebates starting from May to December this year.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email: victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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