Economists expect bumper surplus for 2017
With Singapore’s strengthening economy having boosted government coffers, economists predict a larger-than-expected budget surplus for the financial year ending March. Ahead of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s delivery of the Budget on Feb 19, economists have been busy crunching the numbers to estimate the government’s revenue and spending over the last financial year.
PM Lee eyes broader economic growth
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that while Singapore’s productivity and economic growth have been encouraging, they are still mainly concentrated in the manufacturing and export-driven sectors. The economy grew a healthy 3.6 per cent last year, while labour productivity expanded 4.5 per cent. Mr Lee said: “I hope we’ll be able to sustain that and continue to improve people’s lives and, at the same time, improve amenities and services.”
Sentiment positive as inflation picks up
Inflation is coming, but instead of being scared of the “not too hot, not too cold” narrative of 2017 ending, market sentiment remains positive. We can see this in how global markets ended last week with a rebound from the previous week’s correction. Oil is recovering somewhat. After hitting US$70 a barrel towards the end of January, Brent oil prices found a temporary bottom at US$62 and was last trading near US$65.
Jan exports up 13% despite electronics slide
Singapore’s trade got off to a strong start in this year, with growth in non-electronics exports more than making up for the second straight month of decline in electronics exports. Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) went up 13 per cent year-on-year in January, according to data released on Thursday by trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.
Most expensive CNY yet, but milder price hikes offer some cushion
This Year of the Dog is a case of the bark being worse than the bite. Even as prices of most Chinese New Year essentials rose to record highs, they are rising at a significantly slower pace, The Business Times Fa Cai Index has found. The fifth edition of the annual index tracked the average price of an equally-weighted basket of four popular festive items – mandarin oranges, beer, abalone and bak kwa – in the weeks before the festival.
Earnings season sweetened by dividend highs
Corporate earnings have rolled in pretty much according to script this reporting season, though that’s not stopped some big boys from swinging out the cash sack and running down main street doling out dividends which has fired up their shares.
Singdollar bond issue down to a trickle amid interest rate volatility
The Singapore dollar bond market has almost ground to a halt as interest rate volatility continues to roil markets. Two weeks into February there has been only one issue worth S$50 million, in contrast to last month’s brisk issuance momentum carried over from 2017 when volumes reached the highest in 12 years.
Asean SMEs prioritise investing in tech: Survey
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore and across the region are prioritising tech investments over assets such as factories and machinery, according to a new survey. The poll by United Overseas Bank (UOB), professional services firm EY and consultancy Dun & Bradstreet found that three in five Asean SMEs intend to focus on technology investments in the coming year, with the majority keen on investing specifically in software.
Globalisation will develop into version 2.0, says Ng Eng Hen
Despite the backlash against it, globalisation is unlikely to be dismantled, but it will develop with a slightly different set of rules, adjustments and balance in positional powers, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday. “We are also asking the question, who rules and who gets to make the rules, and on what basis will you be accepted or chosen as a ruler,” Dr Ng told attendees of the 10th Munich Young Leaders (MYL) Roundtable in Germany.
Singapore Real Estate
SGX, MAS intensify lobbying against Reit ETF withholding tax
The Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have intensified talks with the tax regulator over the 17 per cent withholding tax applied to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracking real estate investment trusts (Reits). This comes on the heels of slow progress in the last two years of discussions.
GCBs remain a draw for Singaporeans
A few notable personalities from the corporate world have been involved in transactions in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Areas since the start of the year. The Business Times understands that Simon Israel, chairman of both Singtel and Singapore Post, is buying an old single-storey bungalow that is ripe for redevelopment along Binjai Park in District 21 for S$18.26 million. This works out to S$1,300 per square foot based on the freehold site’s land area of 14,047 sq ft.
Hoi Hup Sunway snaps up Brookvale Park for S$530m
Brookvale Park, a 160-unit development at Sunset Way, has been sold to Hoi Hup Sunway, a joint venture between Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Developments, for S$530 million. This marks the fourth collective sale in a row this week sealed under private treaty after their public tenders closed without a sale. The latest deal also represents the largest investment by Hoi Hup and Sunway Developments in their 11 years of partnership, said Hoi Hup Realty chairman Wong Swee Chun.
Singapore helps Asia-Pac property deals to new record of US$157b
Singapore’s flurry of large deals in 2017 lifted real estate transactions in the Asia-Pacific, with acquisitions growing 6 per cent to hit an all-time high of US$157.5 billion. This smashed the previous peak attained in 2015 by 2 per cent, accoridng to data from research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA), which has been tracking prices globally since 2000.
Pearl Bank may not be spared the wrecking ball
It was once Singapore’s tallest residential building and remains a landmark four decades down the road, but the horseshoe-shaped Pearl Bank Apartments could well fall victim to a demolition crew. The building – sold to developer CapitaLand in a collective sale last Tuesday – will likely not be conserved despite the wishes of heritage lovers and the Singapore architect who designed it.
A home of their own, for 3,000 tenants of rental flats
After seven years in a small rental flat, Mr Mohd Aszrin Ahmad decided his family of five needed more space. They first lived in a one-roomer in Holland Close before moving to a two-room flat in Clementi. Today, the quality engineer inspector is the proud owner of a three-room HDB flat in Sembawang. Mr Aszrin, 43, said: “This home is my heaven – it’s where I can be with my family, who are happy and running around.”
AHTC must settle its outstanding issues: HDB
The Housing Board has called on the Workers’ Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to settle outstanding issues related to financial and governance lapses. These include getting an external auditor to verify the opening balances for its financial statements, said the HDB on Friday. The town council also has yet to make transfers totalling $13.9 million to make up for the shortfall in past transfers to AHTC’s sinking fund, it added.
Ascendas-Singbridge wins tender for ‘mixed-use exec centre’
Ascendas-Singbridge has won the tender from JTC to build a mixed-use executive centre (MEC) in one-north, beating four other contenders. This 2.4-ha development marks Singapore’s first shared executive learning centre dedicated to the development of talent and leadership for the next generation, said the Temasek Holdings unit on Thursday. Flexible workplaces and community development programmes will be introduced within the MEC.
Far East H-Trust Q4 payout slips to 0.97 cent
FAR EAST Hospitality Trust’s fourth-quarter distribution per stapled security slipped to 0.97 Singapore cent from 1.12 Singapore cents a year ago amid a slight decline in occupancy rates and revenue from its hotel and serviced apartment segments. Income available for distribution fell 9.7 per cent to S$18.2 million during the three months ended Dec 31, 2017.
OUE Lippo Healthcare adds 2 board members, wraps placement to Itochu
Japanese conglomerate Itochu will add two nominees to the board of OUE Lippo Healthcare (OUELH) after completing its acquisition of 562.5 million new shares. With the completion of this placement, Itochu becomes a strategic shareholder of OUELH with a 25.3 per cent stake. Singapore-listed OUE will continue to be the largest shareholder with a majority equity stake of 64.4 per cent.
Views, Reviews & Forum
Creating an inclusive cashless society
Convincing Singaporeans to embrace a cashless society is a crucial step for Singapore’s ambition to be a smart nation. The concept of a cashless society is not new. Back in 1961, aerospace engineer Simon Ramo gave a lecture that exhorted the benefits of going cashless. He could see how information could change the way people would live their lives and provide a better understanding of payment patterns and credit worthiness.
Economic convergence – so near and yet so far
The world is now facing what observers are calling a “synchronised” growth upswing. What does this mean for the economic “convergence” of developed and developing countries, a topic that lost salience after the Great Recession began a decade ago?
Singapore’s digital tax agenda: A matter of time
Most corporate tax systems are based on the presumption that businesses operate in close proximity to their customers. These days, however, the reality is not so. Many businesses operate on a regional or even worldwide level. The Internet, more than anything else, has enabled businesses to supply markets without the need for a local presence.
Keeping Singapore economy sustainable: New options in offing
With the need to raise revenue having been signalled over the past months, a discussion of taxes is widely expected to dominate Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Budget speech come Monday. Singapore, one of the fastest-ageing countries in the world, will have one in five people aged 65 and older by 2030. Social and healthcare spending are set to rise. Security spending will also go up to keep Singapore safe and secure, Mr Heng had said earlier.
What is Budget 2018?
The Budget refers to the nation’s strategic financial plan for each year. It takes stock of the country’s economic progress and shows how the Government intends to use our resources to position the nation for the future, while taking care of some immediate needs. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will present Budget 2018 before Parliament tomorrow. It will set out estimates of the Government’s revenue and expenditure for the 2018 financial year and provide updates on the revised projections for the current financial year.
HDB should apply its own occupancy rules to rental housing
The Housing Board (HDB) recently announced new occupancy caps for flats rented out on the open market (HDB lowers cap on number of tenants allowed in flats; Feb 2). The new rules bring down the maximum number of persons who may live in four-room and larger flats from nine to six, in line with the limit for three-room flats. The cap for one-and two-room flats remains at four persons.
Global Economy & Global Real Estate
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China and Asean ‘committed to South China Sea code’
To China’s 40 years of reforms, yam seng!
HK Budget likely to push for innovation
Malaysia’s high interest payments on debt raise concern
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Japan’s Dec machinery orders dip 11.9% – worst in 3 years
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