Real News‎ > ‎2014‎ > ‎August 2014‎ > ‎

17th August 2014

Singapore Real Estate

Delay in opening of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital

Construction delays have pushed back the opening of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong, revealed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally.

Source: Channel News Asia / Singapore

SINGAPORE: SINGAPORE: The opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital which was slated for December has been pushed back by about six months due to construction delays. This was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 17).

GS Engineering & Construction may be liable to pay liquidated damages of about S$100,000 for each day delayed. It faced challenges from a shortage of skilled construction manpower and problems in the supply of the building's facade materials.

In a written statement, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said he is disappointed that the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital has been delayed and will not be able to open as planned in December this year. He added that the priority now is for the Health Ministry to work with JurongHealth to avoid further delays and ensure that the overall capacity in the public healthcare system is not adversely affected and patient care will not be compromised.

To mitigate the impact of this delay, the Health Ministry will add about 400 acute and community beds by the end of this year.

This will include 200 acute beds in Changi General Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and the National University Hospital. Addtional bed space will come from the new 280-bed Changi General Hospital-St Andrew's Community Hospital Integrated Building that will progressively open from this December to the first half of next year.

Until it moves to the new Ng Teng Fong General Hospital site, JurongHealth will continue to operate the 330-bed Alexandra Hospital to meet acute care needs. The Health Ministry is also collaborating with the private sector to increase bed capacity.

The measures include the collaboration between Changi General Hospital and Parkway East Hospital and Gleaneagles Hospital. The second collaboration is between the National University Hospital and West Point Hospital.

The Health Ministry will continue to work with hospitals to improve processes and facilitate timely discharge for patients without compromising quality care. These include Transitional Care Programmes that help patients to transit smoothly from hospital to their homes. Currently these programmes are available in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, National University Hospital and Changi General Hospital. 

800 home care places have also been added since January this year and the target is to hit 6,500 places by the end of this year.

- CNA/ly

Ng Teng Fong General Hospital delayed by 6 months

MOH to add beds to existing hospitals and keep Alexandra operational to ease crunch

Source: Today Online / Singapore

SINGAPORE — The opening of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) in 
Jurong has been pushed back by half a year due to construction issues, setting back plans to add much-needed beds to ease the crunch in hospitals here.

However, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said it will keep Alexandra Hospital open until NTFGH is ready.

To compensate for the delay, MOH will also add 400 acute and community beds to existing hospitals by December, when NTFGH had been slated to open its doors, which will keep capacity about the same as if it had started operations as planned.

At a press conference on Saturday, Jurong Health Services (JurongHealth), which will manage NTFGH, said the delay was due to the building’s exterior work, such as windows and panels, not being ready. This has “significant impact on the overall progress of the building construction”, as internal work cannot be done until the exterior is complete.

Windows, glass panels, air vents and claddings have to be in place before the hospital’s internal features — such as the Intensive Care Units, operating 
theatres, wards and clinics — can be worked on, said JurongHealth chief executive officer Foo Hee Jug.

Its main contractor, GS Engineering and Construction Corp, cited the tight construction labour market and Thailand’s recent political unrest and curfews as challenges that it faced in completing the hospital on time. In a press release, it explained that facade subcontractor Permasteelisa’s factories are based in Thailand and that its production schedule had been disrupted by the political unrest. It may be liable to pay liquidated damages of about S$100,000 for each day delayed.

GS, JurongHealth and the MOH gave the assurance that they will be working closely together to avoid further delays to the project.

The hospital is meant to cater to residents in western Singapore and — together with Jurong Community Hospital, which opens in December — will progressively add 760 acute and community beds from year-end. Alexandra Hospital was to close temporarily for renovation with NTFGH’s opening.

Out of the 400 beds the MOH will add by the end of the year, 200 will serve acute needs. They will be added at Changi General Hospital, National University Hospital and Singapore General Hospital. One hundred and fifty of these beds will be added in response to the NTFGH delay while the others had already been in the pipeline.

The MOH gave the assurance that the hospitals that will have the additional 150 beds have the manpower and infrastructure capabilities to deal with the increase in patient load. However, some might have higher patient capacity and the ministry will divert patients to those that have the capacity.

With the delay, Alexandra Hospital will continue operating its 330 beds until NTFGH opens in the middle of next year.

NTFGH will open in phases, rolling out 365 acute beds first and opening up 550 acute beds in total in 12 months. The first phase will also include 114 community beds that Jurong Community Hospital will run in NTFGH. After 12 months, NTFGH will progressively open, up to its full capacity of 700 beds.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of real estate agency Century 21 Singa­pore, said the delay in the opening is another setback for Jurong. He noted that the Ministry of National Development is holding off its move to Jurong, while CapitaLand has cancelled plans to shift its headquarters to the area, among other things.

He said the delay will have an impact on those investors “who are hoping to see increased rental values for residences and retail shops”.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of consultancy and research at SLP International Property Consultants, said given the competing needs for construction resources, the delay could not be helped. “I think the people are still confident that the Government will deliver.”

-By Kok Xing Hui

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

London Home Asking Prices Plunge Most in More Than Six Years

Source: Bloomberg / Personal Finance

London home sellers cut asking prices by the most in more than six years this month, adding to signs that the property market in the U.K. capital is coming off the boil.

London values fell 5.9 percent from the previous month to an average 552,783 pounds ($922,300), the biggest drop since December 2007, property website Rightmove Plc said today. Nationally, prices declined 2.9 percent, a record for an August.

While property demand usually weakens during the summer, Rightmove said the slump this year was steeper than it expected. Tougher new mortgage rules introduced by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, as well as anticipation of higher interest rates, are putting pressure on the market after a surge in values raised concerns that a bubble may develop.

“Buyers and sellers are becoming increasingly aware about personal finances, given that the cost of mortgages are going up and regulators are trying to bring availability down,” said Miles Shipside, a director at Rightmove. “This limits what buyers are willing or able to pay, and helps moderate sellers’ price expectations.”

Some of the biggest price declines in London were recorded in affluent boroughs including Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, according to the report.

Kensington Drop

Among the “million-pound plus” districts, Kensington saw asking prices drop 7 percent on the month to an average 2.2 million pounds, while Camden fell 7.2 percent. From a year earlier, values in Kensington were down 1.4 percent, the only borough recording an annual decline. The average London price is up 10.3 percent in that period.

“Top-end sellers are very much discretionary ones, so can delay marketing till a more active time of year,” Shipside said. “That tends to depress property prices more in the higher-priced boroughs, with those that need to sell in summer pricing lower to attract holiday-distracted buyers.”

Bruce Dear, head of real estate at law firm Eversheds, said the main problem in London remains a shortage of housing supply, which has pushed property prices to more than 16 times the average salary.

“Urgent policy measures are required to reduce that gap,” he said in a statement. “The only answer is for the government and local authorities to urgently build more.”

Nationally (UKRMNAPM), the annual pace of growth in prices slowed to 5.3 percent in August from 6.5 percent in July. The average asking price was 262,401 pounds. Rightmove said the drop in monthly prices is a “lead indicator of a slower market in the second half.”

Out of the 10 regions tracked by Rightmove, all but the north of England showed a decline in home values in August from July. London led the drop, followed by East Anglia with a 4 percent drop and the south east with a 2.5 percent fall.

-By Jillian Ward

China Vanke First-Half Profit Rises 5.6% on Smaller-Home Sales

Source: Bloomberg / Luxury

China Vanke Co. (000002), the country’s biggest developer by sales, said first-half profit climbed 5.6 percent as it sold more small and medium-size homes that are less affected by market downturns.

Net income increased to 4.81 billion yuan ($782 million), or 0.44 yuan a share, from 4.56 billion yuan, or 0.41 yuan, a year earlier, the company said in a Shenzhen stock exchange filing today. Sales fell 1 percent to 40.96 billion yuan.

“The developer’s focus on smaller homes for owner occupiers is resilient in the slowing property market,” Jeffrey Gao, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc., said before the earnings announcement. “Big companies such as Vanke are better positioned than peers amid the downturn.”

China’s four-year efforts to rein in property prices have included home-purchase restrictions and higher mortgage rates. The real estate industry, facing a surplus of empty units and slowing prices, has become a drag on the world’s second-largest economy. The central bank in May called on the nation’s biggest lenders to accelerate the granting of mortgages and urged them to give priority to first-home buyers.

About 92 percent of Vanke’s projects were comprised of homes of less than 144 square meters (1,550 square feet) each in the first half of the year, the company said. That helped it boost sales even as the slowdown in the country’s property market has put pressure on economic growth.

With more cities easing housing policies, developers’ sales should improve in the second half of the year, Gao said. Nomura rates Vanke’s H-shares, which trade in Hong Kong, a buy.

Contracted sales rose 17 percent to 114.2 billion yuan in the first seven months, the company said on Aug. 4. Chinese developers begin selling homes while they are under construction and book profits upon completion.

Vanke had 42.86 billion yuan of cash at the end of June, it said.

-By Bloomberg News