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S'pore can cope with sand ban in the long term as well

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia
03 February 2007 1931 hrs

SINGAPORE: Singapore will be able to cope with the sand ban, not just in the short term, but also in the medium and long term.

That is the reassurance by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who was speaking on the issue for the first time on Saturday.

He also said that the government plans to co-share up to 75 percent of the increase in the cost of sand with contractors on current government projects, in a one-off measure to help them tide over the disruption.

Mr Mah said it is fair for all parties to share the additional costs.

"We will take each particular contract and look at the additional costs involved and then work out a kind of co-sharing. We will share a significant part of the costs, based on where the burden falls. I expect all public sector agencies will negotiate with their contractors and I also expect the developers in the private sector to do likewise," said the National Development Minister.

Mr Mah remained tight-lipped on how much this move will cost the government, as this would vary on a project-to-project basis.

He said: "We are prepared to share a significant amount, a significant part of the costs. It can go up to as high as 75 percent, if necessary, but it all depends on each particular project, each particular contract.

"As I said, this is a one-off measure; it's a measure we believe will help all parties. Each party shares the burden fairly and in this way, we can overcome this temporary disruption and we can move on."

The building of major projects such as the integrated resorts will continue on schedule, with minimal impact.

Looking ahead, Mr Mah also said more needs to be done for the medium and long term.

He added that Singapore has already received two shipments of sand this week, after the ban.

But there is still a need for the industry to look at exploring alternative methods and construction materials to reduce the demand for sand. - CNA/so