More flexibility for S'pore construction firms to hire workers from China, after tightened India border measures

More details will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Sulaiman Daud | April 26, 2021, 05:10 PM

Help is on the way for the Singaporean construction industry.

The Multi-Ministry Task Force announced on April 26 a slew of measures to help offset the impact of recent tightened border measures.

Those measures affected people travelling to Singapore who had recent travel history in India, which includes migrant workers whom companies in the construction industry is dependent on.

1. Temporary scheme to recruit workers from China without having to enrol in Overseas Testing Centres for skill certification

From May 7, 2021, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will introduce a temporary scheme for six months to allow new PRC Work Permit Holders to obtain their skills certification in Singapore.

This is because some centres in China have yet to resume operations, and interested workers are unable to obtain certification to qualify as basic-skilled construction workers in Singapore.

Once this scheme is implemented, employers can bring in Work Permit Holders from China without skills certification, but they must comply with other entry approval and work pass requirements.

Employers can submit their applications to BCA’s Approved Training and Testing Centres (ATTCs) from May 7, 2021. The list of centres accepting applications will be made known to the construction sector within the next two weeks.

2. Public sector to grant additional 49-day Extension of Time to eligible construction contracts for Covid-19 delays

Government agencies will be granting a 49-day extension to eligible public sector construction contracts that are delayed due to loss of productivity for the period from August 7, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

This is in addition to the earlier 122 days of extension provided under Part 8A of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act (COTMA).

BCA emphasised that no claim for this extension is required from contractors.

3. Public sector to provide 0.1 per cent of awarded contract sum for every month of delay

Under Part 8B of COTMA, the co-sharing of additional non-manpower-related qualifying costs between contracting parties due to delays caused by Covid-19 is required.

This pertains to the period between April 7, 2020 and September 30, 2021 (both dates inclusive), subject to a cap of 0.2 per cent of the contract sum per calendar month and overall cap of 1.8 per cent of the contract sum.

To facilitate a quicker disbursement of costs, for eligible contracts up to awarded contract sum of S$100 million, the public sector will provide 0.1 per cent of the awarded contract sum for every month of delay (i.e. 50 per cent of the monthly cap of 0.2 per cent) as payment for qualifying costs.

There is no need for contractors to put up detailed substantiation on qualifying cost incurred for this 0.1 per cent.

Contractors who wish to claim beyond the 0.1 per cent can continue to submit claims with substantiation, through a simplified computation method developed by the Trade Associations and Government agencies.

BCA will continue to study additional measures to help the construction sector cope with rising costs from the tight labour situation. Contractors are reminded to adhere to safe management measures in worksites, and to send their employees for rostered routine testing to help fight Covid-19.

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Top image from BCA Facebook page.