Singapore Economy

New bankruptcy rules kick in from August

New rules under Singapore's bankruptcy framework to create a more "rehabilitative environment" for bankrupts will come into force from August, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said on Wednesday.  The minimum debt amount that needs to be owed before a person may be made bankrupt will be increased to S$15,000, from S$10,000. This accounts for inflation since 2000.  Under the new framework, a timeline has been provided such that most first-time bankrupts should be eligible for discharge after five years - once they make, in full, a target contribution to creditors based on the individual's earning potential during the bankruptcy period.

Banks welcome MAS guidelines on cloud computing

Banks in Singapore and cloud-computing services providers on Wednesday welcomed the new guidelines on outsourcing risk-management for financial institutions (FIs) issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) earlier in the day.  The guidelines, drawn up from extensive industry and public consultation, provide the industry with expanded guidance on how to manage the risks of outsourcing, including that for cloud-computing services, which are being increasingly adopted by FIs to streamline operations in a digitalised economy.

Four ways Singapore will elevate role of quality and standards

Singapore’s drive for quality and standards (Q&S) will shift its focus to emerging areas, where new quality benchmarks are essential.  It will also strive to build up a Q&S-competent workforce.  Its two other strategies are to leverage Q&S to support the transformation of industry, and to deepen Singapore's participation in international and regional economic fora, so as to extend the reach of its Q&S network.

Singapore Real Estate

Corals at Keppel Bay owners to get integrated smart home app

The idea of a smart home brings to mind Marvel's Tony Stark and his "smart home" controlled by his trusty computer sidekick, Jarvis. Keppel Land partners software developer Philip Tang & Sons to offer residents of Corals at Keppel Bay their own miniature version of Jarvis - an integrated smart home app called Habitap.  Homeowners of the development, which has sold about 56 per cent of its units for S$2,200 per square foot, can expect to pick up their keys in August. They will be the first in the world to enjoy the Habitap app.

Paving the way for more inclusive buildings

Starting next year, buildings such as schools and malls must include two basic accessibility features if they are undergoing any additions and alterations (A&A).  The new rule applies to commercial and institutional buildings such as offices and schools. When these undergo any A&A works, they will also have to make their entrances barrier-free with either a ramp, stair-lift or platform lift, and provide at least one accessible toilet.  Currently, if a building undergoes A&A works on a certain floor, that floor must be made accessible in accordance with building codes - but this does not affect other floors.

Who’s Who In Property (The Business Times, epaper, Page 25-44)

Companies' Brief

CapitaLand Retail China's Q2 DPU falls 4.4%

CapitaLand Retail China Trust (CRCT), which owns 10 shopping malls in China, is still on the lookout to acquire malls in tier-one and higher tier-two cities to grow its portfolio.  At the same time, it is open to divesting CapitaMall Wuhu - "the most challenging property" in its portfolio that has taken a longer than expected time to stabilise given an oversupply situation in the city.

Viva Industrial Trust's Q2 DPS down 5.4%

An infusion of rental income from a trio of new additions to its portfolio has increased earnings at Viva Industrial Trust (VIT) for the second quarter, it reported on Wednesday.  Gross revenue for three months ended June 30 jumped 31.3 per cent to S$23.4 million, from the same period last year.  The increased income came mainly from the acquisition of two light industrial properties in November and a logistics property in April this year; the three properties accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the growth in gross revenue, VIT said.

Lian Beng's Q4 net profit down 43.9%

Lian Beng Group's Q4 net profit fell 43.9 per cent to S$30.4 million from the previous year, the group said in a Singapore Exchange filing on Wednesday evening. This was on the back of revenue plunging 55.8 per cent to S$78.3 million for the three months ended May 31.  For the full-year period, net profit dipped 4.7 per cent to S$102.9 million, while revenue dropped 40.4 per cent to S$445.4 million. This was mainly due to decreases in revenue from the construction and ready- mixed concrete segments as a result of the slowdown in private-sector construction demand. Gross profit fell 29.3 per cent to S$56.1 million.

Views, Reviews & Forum

So what's driving higher parking fees?

They had it good for 14 years. No wonder then that the first hike in public carpark fees since 2002 had motorists blaring their horns.  The bombshell dropped on June 30. Short-term parking rates are being raised by 20 per cent, while monthly season parking charges will increase by as much as 27 per cent. Residents will also have to pay more for season parking tickets for any car beyond their first.  Protest at the increases - which come into effect in December - came fast and furious, with some drivers pointing out that the hike would also impact businesses, and that there were poor alternatives to driving.

Raising construction sector productivity - with an app

When construction worker Dharmaraj Thirugnanam found out that his employer would not be renewing his work permit when it expired, he registered on a database launched by the Singapore Contractors association (SCAL). It cost the 27-year-old S$26 dollars to sign up, and another S$160 in fees when he was successfully matched to a new company in May, just before his time at his old employer was about to end.  Without the database, Mr Dharamaraj told Channel NewsAsia he would have had to return to India and apply to work in Singapore again through a recruitment agent. This would have set him back S$6,000.

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