The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 12, 13, 14 & 15 Feb 2021 (Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon)

Singapore Real Estate

HDB upgraders help boost new condo prices in suburbs
The price gap between new private homes and older “pre-loved” ones in the suburbs has widened further on the back of a buying spree from HDB upgraders armed with cheap mortgages. New homes typically command a premium over resale units, due in part to ever-increasing prices for development land, but the overall differential widened last year to about 37 per cent from 32.4 per cent in 2019.


Singapore Economy

Singapore economy to grow by 4-6% this year; 2020 contraction shaved to 5.4%
Singapore – Singapore maintained its forecast for the economy to grow gradually this year out of its worst recession, and signalled continued support for the unemployed and vulnerable sections of the population. The economy will grow by 4.0 to 6.0 per cent this year, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Monday (Feb 15), sticking to its forecast announced last November,  after weighing positive and negative developments in key external economies.

Singapore keeps 0-2% non-oil export forecast for 2021, upgrades total merchandise trade forecast
Amid continued uncertainty, Singapore is maintaining its forecast for non-oil domestic export (NODX) growth to slow in 2021, though it has upgraded its forecast for total merchandise trade. NODX remains expected to grow by 0 to 2 per cent year on year in 2021, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said in its quarterly review of trade performance on Monday.

Wage subsidies helped trim Singapore firms’ unit business costs in 2020: MTI report
Overall business costs have decreased on a unit basis in Singapore, as wage subsidies drove down the total cost of labour during the Covid-19 recession. But labour costs are expected to go up again this year, as the subsidies wear off and salaries rebound from the projected economic recovery. Unit business cost (UBC) in manufacturing lost 14.4 per cent year on year in 2020, while services UBC dipped by 0.2 per cent in the first nine months, the most recent period on record.

Business environment picks up for second straight quarter
Singapore businesses are huffing and puffing on the long road to recovery from the economic trough of last year’s two-month circuit breaker. Sales still lag pre-pandemic levels and sentiment remains negative. But the business environment has improved for the second straight quarter, according to the quarterly BT-SUSS Business Climate Survey from The Business Times and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Uphill battle for S’pore hotels despite Dec boost
Hotels here may have got a boost during the December break thanks to the tourism vouchers and the school holidays, but they continue to face an uphill struggle this year without international travellers. Yet they remain cautiously hopeful, with some looking to events and new concepts to draw locals in. The Singapore Hotel Association noted that although official figures for December are not out yet, its member hotels have reported an increase in bookings due to the school holidays and redemption of SingapoRediscovers vouchers.

PM cautions that some sectors will take longer to recover
The bulk of Singapore’s economy should be able to bounce back this year, following the heavy hits it took last year with the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said. Such a rebound will however be uneven, and PM Lee cautioned that sectors like tourism, transport, aviation and construction will take longer to recover. “We are expecting some rebound this year. Last year was minus 5 to 6 per cent. That was particularly also because we had a circuit breaker period…

Chan: Trade chambers can help companies tap opportunities arising from digitalisation
Trade associations and chambers (TACs) can do more to help companies build their capabilities and tap opportunities that arise from digitalisation, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said. They play a key role in the national effort to help small and medium-sized enterprises adopt and adapt to new technologies, he added on Friday. He was at the opening ceremony of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SCCCI) live-streaming studio at the Trade Association Hub in Jurong.

MRT station retailers struggle as customers continue WFH
As working from home remains the default arrangement in Singapore, some retailers at train stations, particularly those in the Central Business District (CBD), are finding business unviable. Multiple units at the Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place exchanges, for instance, have been shuttered since last December and the lunchtime crowds are a shadow of what they were during pre-pandemic times. Retailers still operating at the MRT exchanges in the CBD said that they had experienced a “significant” decline in sales when the economy went under a partial lockdown last April.


Companies’ Brief

Oxley reports higher profit for H1 2021
Developer Oxley Holdings’ net profit for the six months ended Dec 31, 2020 more than doubled year-on-year to S$34.12 million from S$15.72 million on the back of higher revenue and lower finance costs. Revenue rose 25 per cent year-on-year to S$745.35 million, lifted by contributions from a wholly-owned subsidiary in Australia that was consolidated into the group’s results from October 2019. Stripping out revenue from the subsidiary, group revenue for H1FY21 would have been 9 per cent higher, largely due to development projects in Cambodia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. 

Data centres a growing asset class within S-Reits
Data centres are physical buildings or spaces within buildings that house computer systems, servers, networks, applications and data. Such facilities have increasingly been important, especially in this digital era, and are becoming a property investment asset class of its own. A joint study by Digital Realty and Eco-Business notes that South-east Asia is one of the fastest growing data centre markets in the world.

Corporate digest


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

Preparing for Singapore’s future
Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)

Budget 2021 should pivot towards a more calibrated and differentiated approach now that the economy has reopened and most businesses are on the mend, except those affected by travel and related disruptions such as aviation and hospitality. It should continue to support industry transformation and development to enhance our competitive edge and attractiveness for investments.

Risks, opportunities and transition await Singapore and the region
Three major transitions are affecting the world: the shift to Asia, the rapid acceleration of digitisation and the growing risk of climate change. All acutely impact South-east Asia. One common denominator for everyone during this crisis has been the need to adapt at pace. And this dynamism is here to stay. As South-east Asia emerges from the shadow of Covid-19, there’s a real opportunity to use these transitions to our advantage.

Budgeting for an uncertain future
As the Singapore economy pivots from its worst-ever recession to recovery, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has the unenviable task of coming up with a Budget that simultaneously addresses multiple challenges: an increase in inequality amid income losses, a still fragile job market and the need to accelerate the transition to a post-Covid-19 world. On Monday, the Department of Statistics reported that the pandemic reversed some of the gains made in narrowing income inequality in recent years.

Find ways to profit from safe-haven Singapore
Is it possible for a country to have too much of a good thing, like too much money? It might seem unreal to worry about this when so many economies, including Singapore’s, are struggling to recover from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. But these are unique times, and Singapore has to watch that it is not infected by an unwanted deluge of overseas funds that can do real damage if not controlled.

Let’s build immunity against vaccine falsehoods
What do you do if your colleague tells you that she is fearful of the Covid-19 vaccine because she was told that it would make her infertile and that it contained microchips for secretly tracking people? This may sound absurd but a pharmacist in Wisconsin, who was recently arrested for destroying 600 doses of Covid-19 vaccines by leaving them out of the refrigerator to spoil, had been promoting these false beliefs via text messages before his arrest.

Social commerce is here to stay. Get on board this train
Just over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been impossible to ignore the stratospheric growth of digital-payment methods across the world. In the Asia-Pacific specifically, we have seen Facebook and PayPal join Google, Tencent and other leading technology firms in backing Gojek, a popular South-east Asian super app. Not missing a beat, Gojek’s competitor Grab has been keeping busy purchasing stakes in popular e-wallets such as Indonesia’s LinkAja.

How tax can help anchor Singapore as the startup hub of choice
In recent years, the Singapore government has made concerted efforts to develop the country into a leading startup hub in Asia by building a robust startup ecosystem. Singapore ranks 16th globally in Startupblink’s Startup Ecosystem Rankings 2020 report, and is third in the Asia-Pacific, after Australia and China. By 2019, there were 3,600 technology-enabled startups based in Singapore, and the country has seen proven success in cultivating the deep-tech startup sectors, such as medtech, fintech, advanced manufacturing, precision engineering, foodtech and agritech.

Race to go green on S’pore’s roads starts with clear rules and runway
American electric carmaker Tesla has returned to Singapore, posting prices which make equivalent petrol cars seem overpriced. An inter-ministerial Singapore Green Plan 2030 launched last week has also raised proposals to further incentivise the adoption of electric cars – on top of tax breaks already in place. Will these finally fuel a proliferation of electric cars, which Singapore has been studying, test-bedding and evaluating since Education Minister Lawrence Wong was chief of the Energy Market Authority back in 2009?

S’pore Green Plan – many existing initiatives but also some new targets
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 was launched amid much anticipation on Wednesday, following an earlier parliamentary declaration that climate change is a global emergency. But a closer examination of the targets set out under the plan has shown that it is more or less a compilation of existing sustainability initiatives. For example, the goal to increase solar energy deployment to at least 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030 was announced in 2019. That same year, another target for 2030 was announced – a food production goal that aims to see Singapore cover 30 per cent of its nutritional needs through locally farmed food.

Wider impact from greening plan
The Singapore Green Plan 2030, which has just been released, offers an ambitious blueprint for taking the country to its next phase of environmental development, akin to the economic plans that accelerated Singapore’s economic development in the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, the plan has a strong economic component. The quest for a green economy – one of five key pillars of the plan – seeks to harness ecological sustainability as a competitive advantage. Thus, new jobs and the transformation of industries will answer to the overall quest for a green nation…


Singapore Bugdet 2021 / 2020

Singapore Budget 2021: Follow ST’s live coverage on DPM Heng’s speech on Feb 16
Singapore – This year’s Budget, which will be unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16), comes as Singapore has spent about a year tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout. Mr Heng has said that helping workers and firms adapt, innovate and grow will be a key priority for Budget 2021 – his sixth Budget speech.

Bankers crossing fingers for infrastructure bond push in Budget
Singapore’s infrastructure bond market could be given a boost in the upcoming Budget as Singapore prepares to launch a series of big-ticket infrastructure projects. This includes green infrastructure such as electric car charging points islandwide as Singapore ramps up its sustainability drive. Already, the government has announced ambitious targets to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, and plans to build 60,000 public charging points by 2030.

Each S’porean household had average of $4,000 in support
Each member of a Singaporean household received an average of $2,000 in Covid-19 support, around 70 per cent of which came from the broad-based Care and Support Package, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday. On average, each household received around $4,000 from broad-based schemes such as the Care and Support Package, the majority of which came in the form of cash transfers.

Firms got $27.4b in grants last year; bulk was for wage support
Businesses here received a total of $27.4 billion in grants last year, the bulk of which went towards subsidising wages under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS). Another $17.4 billion in loans was approved between last March and December, under schemes set up to ensure viable companies retained access to credit amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore averted deeper economic recession with fine-tuned measures
As governments around the world moved to contain the coronavirus by imposing lockdowns and shutting businesses, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had to quickly adjust last year’s five Budgets. By adapting to the crisis, Singapore averted a deeper economic recession and prevented its unemployment rate from spiking by a further 1.7 percentage points. In its interim assessment of the impact of key Covid-19 budget measures released yesterday, the ministry said the pandemic demanded a coordinated response across the public health, economic and social domains.

Covid-19 Budgets cushioned impact of recession, saved jobs
Budget measures last year to combat Covid-19 helped cushion the impact of the recession, saved or created some 155,000 jobs over last year and this year, and shaved the rise in unemployment rate by 1.7 percentage points. A total of $27.4 billion in grants – 18 times the amount given out in 2019 – was used to shore up beleaguered companies. Support was tilted towards harder-hit sectors, smaller firms and lower-income households, which mitigated the uneven impact of the pandemic and reduced inequality.


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

Cohesion key in next phase of virus fight: Ministers
Singapore has made significant progress in the battle against Covid-19 by rallying together and staying disciplined, and this cohesiveness will be key in the next phase of tackling the virus, two ministers said yesterday. Speaking at a virtual event to mark Chinese New Year, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the challenges ahead remain daunting and Singapore cannot let its guard down.

14 new imported cases include one who was on a controlled itinerary
Restaurant Beast & Butterflies at M Social Singapore and Bar Bar Black Sheep were among places visited by Covid-19 patients while they were still infectious, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday. Both are in Robertson Quay. MOH provides a list of locations that infectious Covid-19 patients visited for at least 30 minutes, along with the times when they visited, to get people who were at those places at the same time to monitor their health closely for two weeks from the date of their visit.

Infected stewardess did not serve any passengers on UAE flight
The Singapore Airlines (SIA) stewardess who tested positive for Covid-19 after a turnaround flight to the United Arab Emirates last month did not serve any passengers on both legs of the trip. But the 41-year-old Singaporean came into contact with some cleaners during the stopover at Dubai International Airport, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who gave more details of her case yesterday.
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health (MOH) website and refer to for updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation


Global Economy & Global Real Estate

WHO chief warns against relaxing Covid-19 measures

UK taxes developers to fund safer apartment blocks, but critics say it’s not enough

UK house prices rise in January despite buyers staying away

British economy slumps by record 9.9%

London office investment to cross £10b in 2021

Owner of London’s Westfield shopping centres slashing US exposure to near zero

WeWork tiptoes back to the water cooler

Homebuilders group in US calls for lumber supply increase

The Californians are coming. So is their housing crisis

Trains halted, dozens injured as earthquake rattles Japan

Japan’s economic recovery slows as pandemic pain lingers

Foreign banks lead retreat from Hong Kong’s pricey office market

New Covid wave drives Malaysia economy to worst showing since 1998

Indonesia awaits fiscal response to subdued economic outlook

Myanmar now a much riskier destination for foreign firms after military coup


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