Er. Dr. Lee Bee Wah’s speech during debates on MND’s Budget
Improving our infrastructure has been one of our top priorities. To achieve it we must establish higher productivity within the construction industry. Last year, the Second Construction Productivity Roadmap was rolled out.
Can the Minister give an update on its progress? What is the uptake rate of the Construction Productivity and Capability Fund (CPCF)? How useful has it been in encouraging greater innovation and productivity?1 I would like to ask what is the progress of adoption of new construction technologies including Design for Manufacturing and Assembly through Prefabricated Pre-finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), steel construction and digital engineering. Do they bring about savings in manpower and work duration as expected?
Will the government consider absorbing the difference in the cost of PPVC during this initial period which I am told can cost up to 40 per cent more? At the same time, I was told that in Australia, PPVC is not so common. They use a lot of steel works. With proper planning, steel works can be faster than PPVC. So, I hope Government does not over-push for PPVC and forget about other construction methods.
The fund mainly encourages firms to adopt more productive construction methods. But we might need to look deeper. A
few Singaporean developers who ventured to Australia told me that in Australia, they can build faster because they take much longer in the design and planning stage. In Singapore, as the land cost is high, the developer would normally rush to have design and planning approval obtained so that they can launch quickly. As a result, a lot of details are not ironed out properly during design and planning. Tackling the downstream construction methods may not yield the results that we desire. We need to have fundamental changes in our work flow.
To achieve these fundamental changes, we also need to have experienced Singaporean core engineers, architects and
construction managers. That is we need to retain and build on the construction expertise in Singapore to get better results. Perhaps, Government can help in your procurement method. Do not automatically award to the lowest tender. Instead, scrutinise the companies’ local expertise too, and ask that they have a certain level of local expertise before they can get the tender.