Govt to consider restarting some of deferred building projects if need arises

Domestic construction demand is expected to reach close to S$30b this year compared to S$17b in 2006.

But National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan warned the industry is expected to see a slowdown with the current economic situation.

Mr Mah was speaking at the Singapore Contractors Association’s 71st Annual Dinner.

He said that if the need arises, the government will restart some of the deferred public sector projects, worth S$4.7b, to take up the slack in the industry.

If this happens, it must be timed carefully to ensure there is no constraint on the availability of skilled manpower, equipment and other resources.

Still, Mr Mah said, this will not be enough to keep the industry going.

He said: “In addition, we will continue with key infrastructure such as roads, MRT and we will also continue to invest in our housing projects, both in the construction of new housing as well as the various upgrading programmes that we have announced.”

Mr Mah said the current economic crisis would give the construction industry the opportunity to sharpen its competitive edge by raising professionalism and focus on sustainable development.

A builders licensing scheme will start in the middle of next year.

And the Construction Registration of Tradesmen Scheme (CORETRADE) will begin next year to nurture a core of skilled tradesmen.

Mr Mah said: “Today, the industry is heavily reliant on foreign workers, and the transient nature of such labour makes it difficult to uplift or even retain the skills base. Yet, contractors tell me that crane operators are in short supply even with attractive pay of several thousands of dollars a month. With CORETRADE, I hope that our construction industry will become more attractive to more local skilled workers.”

Builders must constantly challenge themselves to come up with innovative construction methods that will enable Singapore to grow, without compromising our quality of life and adversely harming the environment, said Mr Mah.

A “Green and Considerate Builders Scheme” will be launched soon to recognise builders for their efforts in adopting environmentally friendly construction methods.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Oct 2008

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