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Covid-19: BCA to allow partial installation for PPVC projects

FOR ongoing prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC) projects affected by delays of construction material deliveries from China, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will allow projects to install partially completed PPVC modules onsite first, and install the finishing works subsequently when the delayed materials arrive.

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said this on Wednesday, while also urging main contractors to submit progress payment claims fortnightly instead of monthly for public sector projects, to ease cashflow concerns from delays due to Covid-19.

In response to proposals to extend the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) timelines, he gave no committal reply, saying that the government is “monitoring the construction industry and the property market closely” and will adjust its policies as necessary "to ensure a stable and sustainable property market”. 

He added that BCA has advised government agencies to take a “sympathetic view” when considering extension of time requests for project delays due to Covid-19. It has also sought the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore’s support for private sector developers to do likewise.

The government has selectively allowed extensions of the completion period for individual projects, and is prepared to consider doing so on a case-by-case basis. “We will continue to monitor the situation. If delays are prolonged, we will consider whether additional measures are necessary, Mr Zaqy said.

So far, 13 ongoing PPVC projects have been allowed to install partially completed modules.

Mr Zaqy said that some firms with more mainland Chinese workers may also face short-term manpower pressure due to Covid-19, given the imposed travel bans. These firms may consider hiring workers from other firms with excess foreign manpower by searching for eligible workers for transfer via the Foreign Construction Workers Directory System online. 

Built environment firms can also tap into the support packages announced at the Budget, such as the SME Working Capital Loan under the Enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme, and the Jobs Support Scheme. 

On foreign worker levies, the Minister for Manpower had said during the budget debate last week that it is waiving levies for employers with eligible foreign workers serving quarantine leave of absence or stay home notices. 

However, it has not done so for all foreign workers in general, because as much as it wants to help businesses, measures to deal with the short-term fallout should not negate longer-term efforts for companies to restructure and become less reliant on foreign manpower, Mr Zagy said.

"Levy waivers would run counter to these objectives,” he added.