Chan Chun Sing: Landlords should “do their part” for tenants to offset impact of COVID-19 outbreak on businesses

Major landlords in Singapore are urged to “do their part” to help offset the economic stress caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in parliament on Tuesday (3 March).

Yesterday (2 March), the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) released a media statement on Facebook, voicing its disappointment with landlords that have failed to follow through with their promises to offer rental rebates for tenants.

The tax rebate was part of the $4 billion Stabilisation and Support package that was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during his Budget 2020 speech on 18 February, in which qualifying retail and food services companies will be eligible for a 15 per cent property tax rebate – for selected commercial properties – or a rental waiver from government agencies.

RAS cited that many food and beverage (F&B) outlets have yet to receive any offers or confirmation of rental rebates from the landlords since the country’s first case of coronavirus was reported.

Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa raised a question in parliament earlier today on whether the government will take action on the landlords who failed to pass on the benefits of a 15 per cent property tax rebate granted to them.

Mr Chan responded that the government is aware of the feud between landlords and retailers over the passing of tax rebates, adding that Enterprise Singapore has been in “close consultation” with both the RAS and the Singapore Retailers Association to come to terms with each other.

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

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

After the property tax rebate was announced, Mr Chan noticed that there has been “an entire spectrum of responses” from landlords. 

“It will 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 the tenants,” he noted.

He claimed that more help should be given to the tenants that have taken a worse hit as not all tenants are affected equally by the economic stress caused by the virus.

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

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