A ‘cut’ is a short speech parliamentarians present at the Committee of Supply debate for a ministry. ‘Cut’s must be filed in advance for ministers to gather information for the answers. The following two ‘cut’s were presented by me today. This was followed by additional questions at the end of Ministers’ answers. I will insert their reply and my additional questions when parliament publishes the proceedings.
Tourism Development Fund
In January 2005, Minister for Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang announced the $2-billion Tourism Development Fund to support the Tourism 2015 targets of doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million and tripling tourism receipts to $30 billion by 2015.
This budget has an injection of an additional $905 million into this Fund. Can the Minister share:
How were the original funds used and why are additional funds needed, given that the $2 billion was to last until 2015?
What projects will be funded by this additional amount, and how are these projects different from those unveiled in 2005?
Is STB on track to achieve the 2015 targets? What new outcomes and targets can we expect with this new funding, beyond the original targets
How much of current tourism receipts is contributed by gaming revenue; and should gaming revenue even count towards the target of $30b in tourism receipts, unless it is MTI and STB’s role to grow gaming revenues?
Since the first REIT was formed here in 2002, REITS have grown to be a dominant force in the space leasing industry.
The cost of rents remains a huge concern to SMEs. In a Straits Times article last month, industry players pointed to REITS as the main driver of increases in retail and industrial rents. We saw closures of large and popular book stores, with rental cited as a main cause. Last year, industrial rents jumped by its highest level in 14 years.
I hope the Ministry can actively look at how rental rates can be brought down. A good place to start is at JTC. Since 2008, JTC has divested 2 mil sqf of industrial space to REITS. I urge JTC to stop all further divestment. I also hope JTC can resume its original role of building and leasing affordable industrial space again to SMEs, rather than rely only on land sales and market forces.