New measures to support S'pore's construction sector, including temporary easing of rule for hiring China workers

SINGAPORE – Three measures, including the temporary easing of a skills-certification rule for workers from China, will be rolled out to help the construction sector cope with the manpower crunch resulting from tighter border restrictions on India.

For a six-month period from May 7, new Chinese work permit holders will not be required to complete their skills certification in China before arriving here, provided they meet other prevailing entry approval and work pass requirements, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced on Monday (April 26).

Instead, they may obtain their skills certification in Singapore. This is helpful as some overseas training centres in China, where workers usually get certified, have not resumed operations, said BCA.

Employers can submit their applications for these workers to be certified at BCA’s approved training and testing centres from May 7. The list of such centres will be available within the next two weeks.

The second measure will see the public sector granting construction contracts an additional 49-day extension of timeline for delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This applies to public sector construction contracts that are delayed due to the loss of productivity from Aug 7 to Dec 31 last year.

The 49-day extension is in addition to the 122 days provided in Part 8A of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

The act was passed on April 7 last year to offer temporary relief to businesses and individuals who have been affected by the pandemic.

Contractors will not be required to apply for the additional extension.

In addition, the Government will bear up to half of 0.2 per cent of the awarded contract sum, for every month of delay under cost-sharing measures in Part 8B of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. This applies to eligible public sector projects with a contract sum of not more than $100 million.

Part 8B requires the co-sharing of additional non-manpower-related qualifying costs between contracting parties due to delays caused by Covid-19 from April 7, 2020 to Sept 30, 2021, subject to a 0.2 per cent cap of the contract sum per calendar month, and overall cap of 1.8 per cent of the contract sum.

Contractors will not need to put up detailed substantiation on the qualifying costs incurred for the sum that the Government will bear.

However, those who wish to claim beyond the sum can continue to submit claims with substantiation.

BCA said that details on the three measures will be shared with the construction sector when ready.

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BCA said the changes are due to the recent tightening of border measures for those arriving from India.

“This move impacts the flow of Indian workers into Singapore as well as companies in the construction sector that are dependent on them,” it noted.

Last Thursday, the multi-ministry task force combating Covid-19 said that all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to India within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, due to the rapidly deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the country.

The move, which kicked in from 11.59pm last Friday, also targets people who have prior approval to enter Singapore.

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