The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 21st February 2018

Top Story

Buyer’s stamp duty hike a preferred tool to wealth taxes
While some sort of tax on the wealthy had been expected in Monday’s Budget, few thought it would take the form of a hike in buyer’s stamp duty (BSD).  The move however, has received praise from tax consultants and other experts. They say it’s less disruptive and easier to implement than alternatives such as capital gains tax or estate duty, which could hurt Singapore’s reputation for wealth management and its competitiveness as a financial hub.


Singapore Economy

Infrastructure bond financing could turbo-charge Singapore debt market
The just-announced policy for statutory boards and government companies to issue bonds to fund infrastructure projects is likely to turbo-charge the Singapore debt market.  Fixed-income bankers are excited by the transformational development, which they hope will deepen the local debt market.

Status quo on foreign manpower rules a let-down for businesses
Companies grappling with the tech talent shortage were disappointed that Budget 2018 did not contain measures to ease Singapore’s tight foreign manpower rules.  Foreign manpower issues were noticeably absent from Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Budget speech on Monday, despite hopes that the government might let up on curbs as part of the wider push to help companies go digital and adopt new technologies.

Taxes take centre stage; concerns over manpower policies
This year’s Budget delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday outlined the steps Singapore must take to prepare for three major shifts in the coming decade. These are: the shift in global economic weight towards Asia, the emergence of new technologies, and an ageing population. Is the government doing enough to build a better future for our people?

Iras releases consultation papers on e-commerce transactions
The Inland Revenue Authority Of Singapore (Iras) published two consultation papers on Feb 20 regarding taxing e-commerce transactions for businesses and individuals buying digital services from overseas providers.  This follows the announcement by Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat during his Budget speech on Feb 19 that Singapore would implement GST on imported services with effect from Jan 1, 2020.

MAS still likely to tweak monetary policy, say economists
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) remains likely to tighten monetary policy despite the government’s decision to hold off on the highly-anticipated hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), economists said.  Consumers are set to pay a higher GST of 9 per cent some time between 2021 and 2025, up from the current 7 per cent.

Singapore Budget 2018: Decision to raise GST made after all other options studied, says Heng Swee Keat
The decision to raise the goods and services tax (GST) was a difficult one, but it is the most appropriate option to help Singapore raise revenues at this stage, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.  Over the past year, the Government thoroughly scrutinised all possible alternatives, he said.

Helping businesses, workers, seniors and more: PM
This year’s Budget is aimed at helping businesses grow to support a “vibrant and innovative” economy, and at the same time give workers a leg up in developing capabilities and skills to adapt to an economy which is increasingly going digital, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Tuesday morning Facebook post.  The government, through grants, will support businesses to innovate and build capabilities, and also help firms internationalise, Mr Lee wrote.

Singapore still competitive despite higher taxes: Iswaran
Singapore remains a competitive destination for businesses even though it is raising taxes and maintaining some restrictions on foreign workers, said S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry).  “When you take into account the whole scheme of taxes, including corporate tax regimes, personal tax regimes, I think Singapore still remains a competitive destination in relative terms,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “We never compete on the basis of tax or cost alone” but on value, he said.

Massive, whole-of-government effort behind Budget 2018: Heng Swee Keat
While Singaporeans celebrated Chinese New Year over the weekend, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat spent the holiday at home finalising details of this year’s Budget.  Up until Sunday, a day before Mr Heng was due to speak in Parliament, he worked with his team – who returned to their office in the Ministry of Finance – to iron out last-minute issues, illustrating the complexities of preparing a “multi-year” Budget that was more than one year in the making.

Singapore Budget 2018: Unexpected currency fluctuations led to surprise $9.61b surplus
Much of the surprise $9.61 billion Budget surplus last year is due to currency fluctuations, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said.  Making up about 2.1 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product, the sum is the highest in 30 years. It also surpassed the initial forecast of $1.91 billion by five times.  A large part of the steep increase is due to the exceptional $4.6 billion contributions from statutory boards, mainly the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This far exceeds the $300 million predicted a year ago.

Well-calibrated plan will lift both productivity and wages: Panellists
The Budget is “well-calibrated” to both address productivity and help lift wages, noted one of the panellists at a radio discussion yesterday.  Mr Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, pointed to the Wage Credit Scheme, which has been extended because pay for low-income workers has “lagged for the longest time”, leading to inequality.


Singapore Real Estate

Developer stocks in knee-jerk reaction to change in buyer’s stamp duty
Developer stocks took a hit on Tuesday in knee-jerk reaction to news that the government is raising stamp duties on home purchases costing more than S$1 million.  But most analysts see any correction as a buying opportunity as they do not expect residential transactions and prices to take a significant hit. Their selective “buy” calls on developer stocks following the Budget announcement, however, failed to stem their fall.

An implicit message in buyer’s stamp duty hike
The surprise hike in the top marginal rate of buyer’s stamp duty (BSD) has been touted by officialdom and market watchers as a move towards a more progressive tax system, by placing a heavier burden on the wealthier.  While it is not expected to derail the nascent recovery of the residential market, it may still have a dampening effect on market sentiment, serving as a timely reminder to developers and potential homebuyers not to be too carried away in market euphoria.

Singapore Budget 2018: Stamp duty hike unlikely to put off property upgraders, say experts
The higher Buyer’s Stamp Duty introduced in this year’s Budget is unlikely to put a dent in any aspiring upgrader’s dreams, observers said, but it will mean more for the government coffers to pay for rising expenditure in such areas as healthcare and infrastructure.  Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday that the stamp duty on the value or price of a home above $1 million would be raised from 3 per cent to 4 per cent. The hike took effect yesterday.

Court rules against S$17.5m collective sale of Beauty World Food Centre
A potential S$17.5 million collective sale of the Beauty World Food Centre has been stalled, after the High Court on Tuesday declined to give three of its trustees the power to go ahead with the deal.  In a decision delivered in chambers, the court said the price may not be the best available because the option to purchase was granted to the interested buyer before a valuation was made.

Pomex Court in Joo Chiat up for en bloc sale with S$37m minimum price
Pomex Court in 50 Lorong 101 Changi Road is set to be put up for collective sale, with a minimum price of S$37 million or S$998 per square foot per plot ratio.  The tender will be launched on Feb 22, said Century21, which is handling the en bloc sale.  It will close on March 21, 3pm.

No change to CPF interest rates, HDB mortgage rate for April-June
The Special and Medisave Accounts (SMA) interest rate will be maintained at 4 per cent a year from April 1 to June 30, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board and Housing Board said on Tuesday.  The Retirement Account (RA) interest rate will also be maintained at 4 per cent from Jan 1 to Dec 31 this year.


Companies’ Brief

Keppel Reit subsidiary secures S$350m loan facility
Keppel Reit Management Limited, manager of Keppel Reit, on Tuesday said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange that Keppel REIT Fin. Company (KRFC) has obtained a S$350 million term loan facility. Keppel REIT Fin. Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Reit.  It is secured with a corporate guarantee by RBC Investor Services Trust Singapore.


Views, Reviews & Forum

Innovate to differentiate
Singapore once again finds itself at the nexus of profound global change. World events first shaped modern Singapore into a global trading hub, following the arrival of the British in 1819.  Now almost 200 years later, Singapore is once again at a crossroads between its future and its past, at a time which could shape the future of the Singapore story.

How much more productive have Singaporeans really become?
One nugget in the 2017 report card of the Singapore economy is the finding that labour productivity jumped to a seven-year high last year, confirming earlier trend projections.  According to the data released last week, Singapore’s labour productivity – as measured by real value added per actual hour worked – grew 4.5 per cent in 2017.

To justify GST hike, emphasise universal benefits
The announcement in Budget 2018 that the goods and services tax (GST) will be increased from 7 per cent to 9 per cent between 2021 and 2025 was not much of a surprise. But the fiscal context in which the announcement was made has complicated the Government’s task of persuading Singaporeans of the necessity of the increase.

The politics of Budget 2018: Lots of persuasion needed
In Budget 2015, and prior to the previous general election, then Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the Government had provided sufficiently for increased spending by the state till the end of the decade.  This was, at the time, and still is, read by Singaporeans as a promise that there would be no increase in broad-based taxes till 2020.

What groups say about the measures
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat unveiled a raft of measures to better position Singapore for the future, in his Budget 2018 statement on Monday. Here is a round-up of reactions from various groups.

Budget 2018 bets on Asia for good reason
Early on in his Budget speech on Monday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat identified three “major shifts” in the longer term for which Singapore should better prepare. The first of these, he suggested, was the shift in the global economic centre of gravity towards Asia.

Kampung spirit alive and well in Serangoon estate
Needy residents in Serangoon housing estate can now turn to a new programme for their food needs.  The Serangoon Moral Family Services Centre has launched a food donation programme for the needy residents that it serves at a cluster of Housing Board flats off Boundary Road.


Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Trump Jr to give foreign policy speech on ‘unofficial’ India trip

IHG puts special payouts on ice as it announces new strategy

Japan hopes US will return to TPP, but overhauling the pact now is difficult

Dubai property firm Meraas hires Kuwait sovereign fund executive as CEO

Dubai’s real estate slump to last until 2020: S&P

Spain’s property market recovers to pre-crisis levels


Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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