Landlords should do their part for retail tenants amid COVID-19 outbreak: Chan Chun Sing

Landlords should do their part for retail tenants amid COVID-19 outbreak: Chan Chun Sing

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Feb 4, 2020
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking in Parliament on Feb 4, 2020.

SINGAPORE: Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Mar 3) urged major landlords in Singapore to do their part and help retail tenants tide through the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.

He said the Government is aware of “some issues” between landlords and their tenants over how an earlier announced 15 per cent property tax rebate granted to landlords should be passed on. 

This rebate was part of a special S$4 billion package announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during Budget 2020 to help businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Enterprise Singapore officers have been working over the last week to “urge both sides to come to terms with each other”, Mr Chan said in Parliament. The government agency will continue to arbitrate these discussions.

Mr Chan was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa, who asked if there were concerns that the Government’s good intentions to help affected businesses were not being followed through by landlords.

He cited a recent statement from the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) which called out landlords for not delivering on their publicly announced rental rebates

The food and beverage (F&B) sector is among those that have taken a hard hit from the COVID-19 outbreak and the association has been appealing for temporary cuts in rents.

READ: Restaurant association ‘deeply disappointed’ with landlords for not delivering on rental rebates

READ: Amid fears of 80% revenue loss due to COVID-19 outbreak, restaurants hope for rent rebates

On that, Mr Chan said Enterprise Singapore is in “close consultation” with both the RAS and the Singapore Retailers Association to help them work with their major landlords.

The minister noted that since the property tax rebate was announced, there has been “an entire spectrum of responses” from landlords.

While some have “proactively gone out of their way to share the rebates with their tenants”, others are “still taking a bit of time to roll out their packages”, he said.

“I would like to urge all the major landlords to do (their) part together (and) help each other to get through this difficult moment.”

Describing the relationship between landlords and their tenants as a “long-term” one, Mr Chan said: “When the tenants do well, the landlords do well. When the landlords do well, they need to share it with the tenants.

"It would be very short sighted for landlords to try to stinge and save a bit here and there, instead of passing on some of the benefits to their tenants."

READ: Big businesses need to help smaller players, work together to tide through COVID-19 'crisis': Chan Chun Sing

He noted that with the Singapore economy being “not that big”, there will be “long memories" of those who came forward to do their part and those who have taken "a very short-term perspective".

Mr Chan also said not all tenants are affected equally by the downturn caused by COVID-19, and that more help should be given to those that have taken a bigger hit. 

“We are all in this together,” he said. “The whole Singapore economy depends on businesses, landlords, retailers and everyone working together.”

Source: CNA/sk(mi)

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