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Developers' association calls for review on property taxes in Budget

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The Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) is urging the government to review property tax, improve transparency in the property valuation process, and reduce business costs and regulatory fees.

THE Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) is urging the government to review property tax, improve transparency in the property valuation process, and reduce business costs and regulatory fees.

It is also asking for special training grants to enhance maintenance skills and technical expertise among building maintenance engineers and technicians.

The association's president, Augustine Tan, briefly shared the Budget wish-list at the Redas Spring Festival lunch on Friday.

The wish-list was submitted by Redas to the Ministry of Finance in late December. What was ostensibly absent from the wish-list was any request to review property cooling measures.

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Rather, Redas has chosen to zero in on property tax issues, proposing a review on property tax assessment for vacant land, an exemption of property tax on land under development and buildings undergoing renovations, and a more transparent valuation process by the chief valuer.

Redas, which did not submit a wish-list for Budget last year, is concerned how negative sentiments can weigh heavily on the property market should there be a confluence of recessionary factors and destabilising events, Mr Tan said.

"This will in turn adversely affect Singapore's economy," he added, citing the worrisome rise in unemployment, pressures on prices and rents across property segments, and a high vacancy of 8.4 per cent for private residential units at end-2016, which was close to the peak of 8.6 per cent in 2005 when there was an over-supply of private housing stock.

Mr Tan believes it is "still too soon to conclude that a market recovery is in sight" despite the renewed interest seen in recent property launches.

"The 2017 outlook remains murky with uncertainties surrounding global geopolitics and macroeconomic developments. With the weakened labour market, slower growth in employment and earnings, declining population growth, coupled with the prospect of rising interest rates, the current slowdown is expected to continue into 2017," he said.

On the key areas drawn up by the Committee on the Future Economy, Mr Tan said Redas looks forward to participating and weighing in on innovating, developing and adopting digital capabilities for the real estate industry, elevating skills and raising the bar of competency within the industry, and playing a part in developing Singapore into a connected and sustainable city.

"The recommendations on urban solutions provide a wide scope for Redas members to respond with our collective action plans. Specifically, we will garner feedback from our members on how we can partner the public sector in the master developer scheme to develop, place-make and manage future precincts," Mr Tan said.

"We will support the government's efforts to establish a formal place management framework to rejuvenate and realise more vibrant districts within the city."

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