Speech by 2M Indranee Rajah at the Committee of Supply Debate in Parliament

Mar 5, 2024

Shaping Singapore's Future


1. A small island-state - that’s our nation - has thrived against all odds. With 734km2 of land, we have been able to build homes for a nation; and a globally vibrant economy with a world-class airport and seaport; while protecting our greenery and our built heritage.

2. Through careful stewardship and deliberate long-term planning, we have been able to make the most of our limited land, and continue to provide a quality living environment for Singaporeans. We have benefitted from the foresight of our pioneer planners, who envisioned what we could become.

3. Careful stewardship and deliberate, long-term planning will continue to guide how we plan our land use, to balance current needs and those of future generations.

4. We are working closely with Singaporeans to shape our urban and built environment. First, having engaged Singaporeans on our Long-Term Plan Review, we will now engage Singaporeans on our Draft Master Plan; Second, we will develop sustainably and sensitively; and third, we will support our Built Environment firms in their transformation journey.

Part 1: Draft Master Plan Engagements

5. From 2021 to 2022, we engaged over 15,000 Singaporeans on the Long-Term Plan Review, to map out strategies to guide Singapore’s development for the next 50 years and beyond. We are now embarking on the Master Plan Review, which translates these long-term strategies into implementable plans, over the next 10 to 15 years.

6. Ms Cheryl Chan and Mr Chong Kee Hiong asked how the Government intends to involve Singaporeans in the Master Plan review. As announced by Minister Desmond Lee in October 2023 last year, we will be engaging a wide range of Singaporeans on the Draft Master Plan 2025. The four broad themes for the Draft Master Plan are:

a. Shaping a happy, healthy city;
b. Strengthening urban resilience;
c. Enabling sustainable growth; and
d. Stewarding nature and heritage.

7. Through our engagements, we will hear about Singaporeans’ hopes and dreams for our city, and see how we can make them a reality, while working within our constraints.

8. We will be engaging the public on significant plans for parts of Singapore. An example is the ‘Long Island’ project – our plan to reclaim about 800ha of land off East Coast. ‘Long Island’ will be an opportunity to meet multiple needs for our existing and future generations. This includes protecting the low-lying East Coast area from sea level rise, strengthening our flood resilience and water supply, building new homes, and creating new coastal and reservoir parks.

9. Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin asked about the impact of ‘Long Island’ on marine life. Today, agencies are already required to conduct detailed environmental studies for developments that may cause significant environmental impact, and develop appropriate mitigating measures. ‘Long Island’ will be no different. The studies for ‘Long Island’ will consider surrounding marine habitats such as inter-tidal flats and coral communities. We will work closely with the nature community, academics, and researchers to explore nature-based solutions to minimise the environmental impact of the reclamation at of ‘Long Island.’ SMS Tan will cover other aspects of how we conserve and plan our marine spaces.

10. We have commenced discussions with some stakeholders, and will progressively do so with others, including recreational interest groups, businesses, the local community, and general public. These conversations, together with findings from technical studies, will guide the development of a shared vision for ‘Long Island.’

11. We will also be engaging the public on our island-wide planning strategies. For example, “Play” was one of the themes of the Long-Term Plan Review, where many Singaporeans shared their desire for more recreational opportunities. To follow up, URA and agencies are developing a Recreation Master Plan.

12. As part of the Recreation Master Plan, we are working to activate and curate networks of recreational spaces across the island incorporating sports, arts, nature, heritage, and wellness. These spaces will help keep Singapore liveable amidst our densely built up environment, something Mr Dennis Tan spoke about.

13. These recreation spaces will be both indoor and outdoor, close to homes, and well-connected via footpaths, cycling paths and park connectors. Between 2Q and 3Q this year, URA will hold a series of roving exhibitions across the island to seek the public’s views on the planning of recreation spaces. The feedback received here will then feed into the Draft Master Plan.

14. Through our engagements, we will reach out to a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including youths, interest groups, local communities, academics, and industry partners.

15. Our engagements will encompass roadshows, focus group discussions, collaborations with professional bodies, and competitions where people can submit their ideas.

16. These engagements will culminate in the Draft Master Plan 2025 exhibition, which will be held in the second half of 2025 at the URA Centre, and selected locations around the island. Plans will be showcased at the exhibition for public feedback before it is gazetted as the next Master Plan.

17. Our engagements will not end there. Beyond our Draft Master Plan engagements, we are continually committed to work with Singaporeans in the planning and designing of our spaces. This includes ways to facilitate safe and efficient deliveries, as shared by Ms Jean See, which we will study further.

18. We hope that through these conversations, we can all have a better understanding of the diverse needs and aspirations among Singaporeans, and how to meet these given our land limitations and emerging challenges like climate change.

Part 2: Sustainable Development

19. This leads to my second point.

20. Even as we develop for the future, we aim to do so sensitively and sustainably. This is a key concern that many Singaporeans had raised in our past engagements.

21. Let me first touch on our strategies on the climate adaptation front. We continue to adopt creative solutions and new technologies to protect our island against the impact of climate change.

22. Mr Dennis Tan asked how we are keeping Singapore liveable amidst rising temperatures and whether population density is considered in our planning norms. Key factors that drive the urban heat island (or UHI) effect are building density and the types of human activity, rather than population density. For example, while the Central Business District and industrial areas have lower population density, they are temperature hot spots.

23. To minimise the UHI effect, we have implemented a wide suite of cooling strategies at various scales across the landscape.

24. At the national level, greening Singapore remains a key strategy that brings many benefits, including providing shade, cooling our surroundings, and enhancing our living environment. SMS Tan will share more about our City in Nature efforts. At the development and district-level, we configure new towns and districts to optimise wind flow and ventilation, as well as to reduce heat gain from the sun. At the building-level, we are trialling cool coatings which reflect heat-generating radiation back to the atmosphere.

25. On climate mitigation, Mr Xie Yao Quan asked what efforts we have taken to accelerate our transformation to a low-carbon built environment. In 2021 and 2022, we raised minimum energy performance standards. This is so that new buildings are designed to be sustainable, and existing buildings upgraded to meet higher sustainability standards.

26. We also launched the $63 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0 in 2022, which provides support to building owners for energy efficiency retrofits. These efforts have enabled us to green about 58% of our buildings by GFA to date.

27. To help meet our target of greening 80% of our buildings by 2030, we will be introducing the Mandatory Energy Improvement (or MEI) regime by the end of this year, as announced by SMS Tan last year. The MEI regime is targeted at energy-intensive buildings. Building owners of such buildings will be required to conduct an energy audit, and implement measures to reduce energy consumption. More details will be announced later.

28. We are also doing more to green the construction process. As mentioned in DPM’s Budget speech and SMS Low’s MTI COS speech, we will be expanding the Energy Efficiency Grant (or EEG) to new sectors, including construction. This is a new grant for the construction industry, and will support the cost of energy efficient construction equipment. The grant is tiered as follows:

29. Under the Base Tier, eligible local construction firms can receive up to 70% of funding support for pre-approved energy efficient construction equipment, with a cap of $30,000.

30. Under the Advanced Tier, firms that wish to do even more to reduce their emissions can receive funding support of up to $350,000, inclusive of the support under the Base Tier. This advanced tier will allow firms to adopt energy efficient equipment that is not pre-approved. The grant amount for this will be based on expected energy savings or up to 70% of the equipment cost, whichever is lower.

31. We target to introduce the EEG for the construction industry by the end of this year. More details will follow.

Part 3: Transforming the Built Environment sector

32. Beyond driving greater sustainability, we must continue to transform the Built Environment sector in other ways.

33. Ms Cheryl Chan asked about our efforts to encourage the adoption of productive and innovative technologies in the Built Environment. We have developed a system of incentives and grants to support investments in different types of technologies. For example, the Productivity Solutions Grant has helped over 900 construction and facilities management SMEs adopt pre-approved digital solutions, to date.

34. We will also extend the Productivity Innovation Project (or PIP) scheme until March 2025. The scheme provides our builders and prefabricators with co-funding support of up to 70% of the costs of technologies such as robotics and automation, capped at $10 million.

35. Over the last six years, the PIP scheme has supported 78 firms with $37.4 million worth of funding in investments. For example, Great Resources M&E Contractor Pte Ltd will be deploying automated drilling and anchoring robots on-site. This will enable the firm to increase productivity by at least 30%, with one-third less workers required. With less manual work and fewer workers on-site, they can also carry out this work more safely. I encourage firms to make use of the PIP extension to transform their processes.

36. The system of incentives I have just mentioned is targeted at helping individual firms transform their work. However, building projects involve many different parties across the broader Built Environment value chain.

37. To encourage collaboration, we introduced the Growth and Transformation Scheme (or GTS), which supports alliances of developers, builders, consultants, and other stakeholders, to pursue best-in-class transformation outcomes together.

38. As of January 2024, both the CapitaLand Development-led and City Developments Limited-led alliances have started to implement their initiatives. For example, CapitaLand Development’s upcoming Common Data Environment platform will facilitate upfront
coordination and structured information exchange throughout the project. It will be the single reference point for key project information. The data collected can also be analysed to improve processes for future projects. This initiative is expected to increase productivity by up to 50% over existing project workflows, and reduce downstream abortive works.

39. I commend CapitaLand Development and its alliance partners, including Woh Hup, Surbana Jurong and Threesixty Consultants for their efforts, and look forward to hearing more about their progress.

40. I also thank Mr Henry Kwek, Mr Don Wee, and Mr Yip Hon Weng for their suggestions on how to better support our construction firms. Firms can tap on many existing incentives to grow their capabilities. These include the sector-specific initiatives I spoke about, and other broader schemes. For instance, WSG’s Capability Transfer Programme facilitates the transfer of capabilities from foreign specialists to locals. Companies can benefit from salary support, attachment-related costs, and funding for equipment and venue costs for industry-wide projects.

41. The Government also does our part as a major buyer of construction services. For example, agencies are required to abide by strict timeframes so that firms receive payments on time. This includes regular milestone payments and partial payments when Variation Orders are progressively completed. Last year, more than 80% of public sector construction contracts were awarded to SMEs.

42. The Government will continue to conduct regular reviews to ensure that our procurement processes remain fair and cost-effective.


43. In conclusion, our plans for the future are a reflection of our collective ideas, hopes, and dreams.

44. Every stakeholder is critical in this journey, from our residents, and nature and heritage groups, to our professional bodies, and Built Environment firms.

45. I urge each of you to actively participate in our stakeholder engagements, share your insights, and contribute to the conversation that will shape Singapore.