Singapore Real Estate
GCB market continues to sizzle
The creme de la creme of Singapore’s landed housing market remains buoyant. In the first two months of this year, some S$424 million of deals in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Areas have been transacted – nearly 40 per cent of the tally for the whole of last year. Based on URA Realis’ caveats data, the number of deals since the start of this year stands at 16, with the latest transaction dated Feb 23.
Retail sales down 6.1% in Jan but economists see recovery ahead
Although Singapore’s retail sales declined further in January, economists see signs of improving domestic demand – though year-on-year figures in upcoming months should be viewed in the context of the low base effect from a year ago. Retail sales fell 6.1 per cent year on year in January, figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat) showed on Friday.
Most countries in APAC looking at 2022, 2023 before herd immunity can be achieved: report
With exceptions such as Singapore, most countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region will be looking at 2022 and even 2023 before herd immunity is achieved, according to Steven Cochrane, chief APAC economist at Moody’s Analytics. On the one hand, Asian countries appeared to have been cautious in their approach to acquiring vaccines until it was clear which would be approved and available.
EU-S’pore free trade pact an anchor for both sides: Halimah
The free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Singapore, which came into force in November 2019, has served as an anchor for both economies amid the Covid-19 pandemic and global protectionist sentiment, President Halimah Yacob said yesterday. She pointed out that both sides had given a strong signal by undertaking some very substantive commitments in tariff elimination, on rules of origin and on market access with the landmark deal, the first between the EU and an Asean member state.
STI Reserve List S-Reits active with M&A deals
The Straits Times Index (STI) generated 1.7 per cent total return in February 2021, bringing its total return for the first two months of 2021 to 3.9 per cent. Based on data from FTSE Russell as at Dec 31, 2020, there are six S-Reits in the STI with combined indicative weight of close to 14 per cent. Following the March 2021 quarterly review, FTSE Russell announced that there will be no changes to the constituents of the STI.
Views, Reviews, Forum & Others
Gender parity: More than workplace flexibility required (Part 1)
Part 2 will be published on March 15.
This week’s topic: Will new work norms such as the rise of hybrid working and work-from-home help improve gender equality at the workplace?
Bold moves needed for lasting change
The Budget debate round-up speech last week, followed by debates on ministries’ budgets this week, threw up an alphabet soup of support schemes. Some were new, while others were enhancements of existing programmes. There were two key takeaways from the slew of announcements: First, while emergency relief was front-loaded in last year’s five Budgets, this year’s Emerging Stronger Together Budget is focused on helping firms and workers transform and pivot.
Adapting to the new normal means working fast and slow
When the pandemic required us to work from home, I was taken by surprise. But then I reminded myself that each decade of my work life had required some sort of adjustment. Every move across various countries forced me to adapt to the job, the people and their expectations. This new normal, however, was not precipitated by a personal change, but a global one. I was secretly pleased by the opportunity to work from home. Zero commute. Fewer distractions. Greater productivity. What’s not to like?
Technology shifts that enhance board governance in the hybrid era
The year 2020 was a challenging one. Covid-19 forced companies to accelerate their digital transformation plans. Across the board, new ways of working were implemented almost overnight: video conferencing, online board and committee meetings, virtual shareholder engagement and even virtual conferences are now the norm. How much of this will have a long-lasting impact on how boards are governed? Among the plethora of changes, at least three technology shifts will endure.
Potential wealth tax raises concern over Singapore’s competitiveness as wealth hub
The imposition of wealth taxes, such as a reinstatement of estate duty and introduction of investment-related taxation such as a capital gains tax, is widely expected to dent Singapore’s competitiveness as a wealth management hub. Consultants and banks contacted by The Business Times believe that the impact – should various forms of wealth taxation be introduced —
Easier tax claims process for work-from-home expenses
With many having to telecommute due to the pandemic, the taxman has made it easier for workers to claim tax deductions on work-from-home expenses incurred last year, including the cost of air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Taxpayers are not required to make specific estimations such as pro-rating additional expenses based on the time spent working from home. Instead, calculations have been simplified to the difference between charges before and after working from home.
WTO’s new chief off to a promising start
The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) new chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has lost little time in signalling her priorities. In her first week after taking office last Monday, she has supported a call by Singapore, New Zealand and others to do away with restrictions choking supply chains for medical goods, equipment and other pandemic-related products.
S’pore investors describe omnibus law as positive development
Singapore businesses hope Indonesia’s new “omnibus law” will lead to essential reforms in a wide range of areas, from business permits to labour, enabling them to operate more efficiently in South-east Asia’s largest economy. The law aims to simplify processes to get business licences and also introduces flexibility in the country’s labour market by easing recruitment and outsourcing.
Changi consortium renegotiating terms for revamp of Flores airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport might just be one of the first foreign businesses to benefit from Indonesia’s new “omnibus law”. Changi Airports International (CAI) and its Jakarta-based partner Cardig Aero Service are renegotiating with the government on the terms for the refurbishment of the main airport in Labuan Bajo, Flores, head of Labuan Bajo and Flores Tourism Authority Shana Fatina told The Straits Times last month.
Protesters in Myanmar pressure Singapore firms to leave
Singapore – Singapore-linked firms have come under pressure from pro-democracy groups as the military crackdown on anti-coup protests in Myanmar grows in violence and bloodshed by the day. Protests have spilled over from the streets to online, as activists name foreign firms operating in Myanmar that they say may be channelling funds to the military.
Singapore Budget 2021
Better targeted subsidies to those in greater need as healthcare spending likely to continue rising over time: Gan Kim Yong
Singapore’s spending on healthcare has grown every year and is likely to continue rising, which is why the country needs to be prudent and ensure support is targeted at those in greater need, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Friday. “Even with our best efforts, we will still be spending more on healthcare over time, given an ageing population and increasing consumption of healthcare services,” he told Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
Business groups in S’pore concerned over rule change for dependant’s pass holders
Singapore – Several business chambers are concerned about the message being sent by the new requirement for dependant’s pass holders to obtain a formal work pass in order to work in Singapore. They said many such foreigners have skills and experience that can contribute to the economy here, and the more restrictive rule may make it more difficult for companies to relocate staff or senior executives with families.
Aviation sector will see some recovery this year: Minister
Singapore’s aviation sector will see some recovery this year as some countries reopen their borders, but it will not be realistic to expect a “V-shape” rebound, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung. Instead of forcing a sharp recovery, the Republic will work to help its battered air hub adapt to a new normal and reopen safely, he added yesterday during the debate on his ministry’s budget.
Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation
13 imported cases of Covid-19; none in the community
There were 13 new coronavirus cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health yesterday, taking Singapore’s total to 60,033. All of them are imported cases who were on stay-home notice on arrival in Singapore. They comprise one student’s pass holder, 10 work permit holders and two short-term visit pass holders. The student’s pass holder is a 19-year-old woman who arrived from Sri Lanka.
Steps taken to smooth vaccination process
Processes are being streamlined to reduce waiting times and people are encouraged to book afternoon slots for Covid-19 jabs, as Singapore looks to dose 1.25 million people by the end of next month. More people tend to get vaccinated on weekday mornings and at polyclinics, the Ministry of Health (MOH) told The Straits Times. “Those who want shorter waiting times should book appointments in the afternoons and at any of the 14 vaccination centres here,” a spokesman said.
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health (MOH) website atwww.moh.gov.sg and refer to go.gov.sg/mohupdates for updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation
Global Economy & Global Real Estate
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US labour market added more jobs than forecast in February
US Senate passes $2.5t stimulus Bill
Britain’s old malls are turning into condos
New York City’s Financial District faces office glut as tenant exits loom
Manhattan’s real estate agents take up TikTok to find renters
Virgin Galactic chairman sells holding worth US$213 million
Swedish real estate hotter than ever
Washington Prime Group prepares potential bankruptcy filing; shares sink 44%
Australia housing to rise 10% in 2021, but there are risks ahead: Goldman
WHO scraps plan for interim report on Wuhan coronavirus mission: Media
China’s February exports post record surge from Covid-depressed 2020 levels
China sets modest GDP growth target as economy improves
China pledges to tackle housing problem in biggest cities
China’s new 5-year climate targets fail to impress experts
Hong Kong turns empty hotels into apartments for residents
Indonesia eases job creation rules to woo foreign investments