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Construction firms hit by India travel ban to get more flexibility to hire China workers

Construction firms hit by India travel ban to get more flexibility to hire China workers

Rails and signs mark the borders of different work zones at a construction site in Sembawang. (Photo: Cheryl Lin)

SINGAPORE: Construction firms will get more flexibility to hire workers from China and more time to complete public sector projects as part of support measures announced on Monday (Apr 26).

This is to mitigate the effects of a ban on long-term pass holders and short-term visitors from India after the country recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases, with more than 300,000 new infections in recent days.

"This move impacts the flow of Indian workers into Singapore as well as companies in the construction sector that are dependent on them," said the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) on Monday.

READ: India COVID-19 cases sets new global record for 5th straight day

To help companies deal with the impact, BCA announced three measures. 

For the time being, companies will be able to recruit workers from China without having to enrol in Overseas Testing Centres for skill certification. This temporary scheme will start from May 7 and last for six months.

The new Chinese work permit holders can obtain their skills certification in Singapore and they must comply with the other prevailing entry approval and work pass requirements, said BCA in a media release.

The public sector will grant an additional 49-day time extension to eligible construction contracts for delays due to COVID-19 "to help ease contractors’ cashflow and relieve anxiety on being unable to meet project timelines".

This is in addition to the earlier 122 days of extension provided under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. 

READ: Dormitory residents who have recovered from COVID-19 no longer exempt from routine testing

The public sector will also provide 0.1 per cent of the awarded contract sum for every month of delay as payment, to share the cost of non-manpower related cost increases under the Act. This applies to eligible contracts up to a contract sum of S$100 million.

Details on the measures will be shared with the construction sector once ready, said BCA.

"BCA will continue to study additional measures to help the construction sector cope with rising costs arising from the tight labour situation. These will be rolled out progressively," it added.

Source: CNA/hm(gs)


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