Infrastructure Update: April 20, 2020

Infrastructure Update | April 20, 2020
Authors: Jack Myint and Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • April 22: Video Conference Call with the Honorable Michael G. DeSombre, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand
  • April 28: Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP) Video Conference Call on their financial and commercial engagement tools to facilitate investment within the energy sector in the Indo-Pacific region. The video conference will take place on Tuesday, April 28, from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (EST).  To RSVP, please email Sam Yee (YeeSS@State.gov) and Chris Lanning (LanningFC@state.gov) by COB Friday April 24 with your contact information, company/association that you are representing, title, and any potential questions you might have for the presenters. A link with further info on how to access the video conference will be emailed to those who have RSVP’d prior to the event. Please reach out to Aaron Ringel (RingelAE@State.gov) or Danius Barzdukas (Danius.Barzdukas@trade.gov) with any questions.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

COVID-19 Impact on ASEAN Construction Sector and the Government Response

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the construction sector across ASEAN is slowing down and preparing for disruption as countries are enforcing social distancing and restricting movements. In Thailand, the Thai Contractors Association on March 25 submitted a letter to its members and contractors asking for input on the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter addressed disruptions in supplies of tools, machine and equipment that could only be imported from countries that had shutdown, closures of construction sites, and shortages in the supply of workers who had returned home. In Cambodia, the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC), noticed a number of companies had already temporarily suspended operations and furloughed employees due to the pandemic. According to a report by Cambodia-based Care Construction Worker, between 175,000 and 200,000 informal workers are in the construction industry, or about 87 percent of the Cambodian workforce. In Laos, the Ministry of Energy and Mines issued a notice on April 5 to temporarily suspend mineral processing plants and hydropower construction projects to implement safety procedures for COVID-19 at worksites.

Responding to the impact on the sector and the economy, ASEAN governments have implemented policies to support the infrastructure sector during the pandemic. Despite the current Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, Philippine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on April 7 said the government would allow “limited work” for 13 rail projects across the country, including projects on Luzon. Similarly, while the Malaysia Government extended the Movement Control Order to April 28, it allowed construction sector and related services to resume limited operation. In addition, ASEAN governments are also spending on infrastructure building as a way to support the public and revive the economy during the pandemic. On March 27, Malaysia Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin affirmed the continued implementation of all infrastructure projects allocated in Budget 2020, worth a total of US$18.3 billion. The implementation of these projects would increase government spending and increase the national GDP growth for 2020, according the Malaysia Central Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). The Indonesia Public Works and Housing Ministry on April 8 said it would expedite labor-intensive infrastructure projects, financed in cash, to help low-income community maintain their purchasing power during the pandemic. Projects in 34 provinces across Indonesia would amount to US$636 million.

Thailand and Philippines to Revise Infrastructure Plans Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

In a meeting of the National Strategy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in early April, the Prime Minister ordered the national Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) to revise the 20-year national strategy (2018-2037) and the 12th national economic and social development plan (2017-2021) in light of the global economic slowdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary-general of the NESDC Thosaporn Sirisamphand said the NESDC is scheduled to propose a revised plan by September, taking into account the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on the economy and more vulnerable economic sectors. The national strategy, which came into force on Oct 13, 2018, has 23 master plans. Under those plans, there are 15 urgent flagship projects that must be implemented during 2019-23. The 15 projects are split into several groups, of which infrastructure projects that can generate long-term economic growth is an important group. Projects under this group include the Southern and East-West Economic Corridor Development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region framework.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy has caused several countries and infrastructure actors to rethink their strategy for infrastructure-focused economic growth. Recently, the Philippine Government is considering changing the focus of the ambitious infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build” to prioritize health infrastructure. The “Build, Build, Build” program was an infrastructure construction campaign focusing on building roads, railways, airports and bridges, proposed by President Duterte in his 2016 presidential election bid. The program has 100 flagship projects worth US$86 billion to be financed by national budget, the private sector, and multilateral and bilateral development partners. As the pandemic continues, multilateral lenders such as the Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB), China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, and World Bank and the IMF are shifting funding away from connectivity and transportation infrastructure to COVID-19 response programs, helping borrower countries worldwide to fight the disease and support vulnerable sectors.

Singapore to Allocate Nearly US$72.3 Billion for Land Transport Projects in the Next Decade

According to statements by the Singapore Ministry of Transport over the last few months on the 2020 budget, the Ministry will allocate nearly SG$100 billion (US$72.3 billion) to build road, rail and active mobility over the next decade. Of this amount, the Ministry will allocate US$61.5 billion to domestic rail projects to construct the new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) to be constructed from 2020 to 2024, the Jurong Region Line from 2026 to 2028, Phase 1 of the Cross Island Line (CRL) to being in 2029 as well as advanced engineering studies for the western leg of the CRL. The CRL has the longest lead time, with completion of the 50km rail project linking Changi to Tuas expected to be completed by 2031. Of the remaining budget in the next decade, the Ministry has earmarked US$5.1 billion to enhance and upgrade the existing road network and more than US$900 million to build bus depots and integrate bus interchange and mass rapid transport station. For the financial year 2020, the Ministry has earmarked SG$8.9 billion (US$6.3 billion) to infrastructure development, of which domestic rail projects will be allocated US$4.8 billion.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Exposure to coronavirus disruption low for majority of APAC infrastructure companies
ASEAN coordination needed for sustainable infrastructure projects: report

Cambodia
Virus puts construction workers out of jobs
No sign of slowing sales of borey projects despite Coronavirus
Green light for $161M Kandal brewery

Indonesia
Indonesian Govt to intensify labor-intensive infrastructure projects
New concession model introduced to monetise existing Government/SOE infrastructure assets - Allen & Overy

Laos
Last Mekong River bridge completed on China-Laos Railway
Coronavirus Delays Construction on Lao-China Railway
Ministry Orders Temporary Suspension of Mining Activities, Hydropower Construction
233 infrastructure development projects to be implemented in Laos in 2020

Malaysia
MBAM and Rehda will work together to combat Covid-19
CIDB postpones International Construction Week in light of Covid-19
Contractors glad they can work
Court rules on challenges to AIAC and statutory adjudication
RM2.9bil contracts for construction sector in Q1, up 55pct year-on-year
Continuation of large-scale infra projects to provide additional lift to economic growth - BNM
MPM takes over Labuan Liberty terminal, plans RM10 million upgrading works
Kumpulan Powernet wins RM354m Perak hydropower plant project
Healthcare and infrastructure to benefit
SunCon clinches RM508m highway project in India

Myanmar
Pandemic delays construction of Tarmwe market
China committed to investing in Myanmar despite COVID-19 pandemic: Ambassador
Commerce and Conflict: Navigating Myanmar’s China Relationship

Philippines
San Miguel builds quarantine facility for military personnel
JLL says lockdown prompting real estate companies to go digital
DPWH, EEI and Villar Group complete construction in 7 days By DPWH
Govt eyes to keep BBB funds intact to boost economy after Covid-19 crisis
Limited work for 13 rail projects allowed
Palace freezes P30.824-billion infra projects, realigns fund to LGUs
Build, Build, Build to hit targets despite COVID-19

Singapore
COVID-19 Construction: Considerations for the Singapore (Temporary Measures) Act : Clyde & Co (en)
Responding to COVID-19: Temporary Relief in Singapore for Inability to Perform Contractual Obligations
Close to $100 billion earmarked for land transport projects for next 10 years
Sembcorp Design and Construction bags $433m biosolid treatment deal

Thailand
Thailand plans $33 billion public-private investment projects
Deferral sought on signing rail contract
New SRT chief vows to cut debt
Canal service gets new lease on life
NESDC ordered to rejig strategies
Labour Ministry readying more help
Property outlook negative
Mixed-use projects drive Lat Phrao
Developers in crisis mode

Vietnam
PM asks Đồng Nai to expedite site clearance for Long Thành International Airport
Vietravel Airlines’ plan for first flights postponed due to COVID-19
Vietnam Airlines adjusts flights to Da Nang due to new quarantine policy
Vietnam PM approves establishment of Vietravel Airlines
Vietnam Railways only operates a couple of trains from April 1 on COVID-19 fight 
Trà Vinh to build two erosion prevention projects
Investors sought for key Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu projects
Lotte E&C completes pre-feasibility study for Yen Vien-Lao Cai railway route
Airlines to stop carrying passengers to Vietnam from April 1
Cần Thơ to become first smart city in Mekong Delta by 2025
Deputy PM calls for setting up managing unit for delayed expressway project
Vietnam’s public investment disbursement up in first quarter
Duc Giang Chemical to develop $521 million project in Thanh Hoa
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Exposure to coronavirus disruption low for majority of APAC infrastructure companies The Business Times 9th Apr 2020
Of the nearly 200 rated infrastructure issuers in Asia-Pacific, 68 per cent have low exposure to disruption from the coronavirus, 23 per cent have moderate exposure, and 9 per cent have high exposure said Moody's Investors Service in a sector comment released on Thursday. Of those with high exposure, most are regional airports, and toll roads in China. In particular, the rated Asia-Pacific airport sector is highly exposed to global coronavirus containment measures and travel restrictions which have resulted in unprecedented declines in passenger traffic with uncertain recovery trajectory.

ASEAN coordination needed for sustainable infrastructure projects: report vietnamnews.vn 9th Apr 2020
With Southeast Asia facing a funding deficit to meet its burgeoning energy and infrastructure needs, the region needs stronger coordination, skills and transparency in elevating sustainable projects to investors, according to the findings of a report by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA). The findings and recommendations to government, banks and business were shared in the report issued on April 2. The report, titled “Financing Sustainable Infrastructure in ASEAN”, finds that underpinning Southeast Asia’s underutilisation of sustainable financing to meet its vast infrastructure needs is a lack of commonality in environmental and social standards and risks considered by financial institutions, project developers, multilateral institutions and governments.

Cambodia

Virus puts construction workers out of jobs Khmer Times 10th Apr 2020
As the Kingdom takes massive hits from the coronavirus pandemic, Cambodian construction workers are not spared from the economic fallouts as they confront possible layoffs. Sok Kin, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC), addressed the furloughing of construction workers in the Kingdom and the growing number of construction companies suspending operations amid the health crisis.

No sign of slowing sales of borey projects despite Coronavirus Khmer Times 8th Apr 2020
Sale prices of Phnom Penh landed property (borey) units showed no sign of slowing down in the past six months. Driven by strong local demand, the average quoted prices accelerated across all unit types, according to the first quarter report from CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. Compared with the third quarter of 2019, the average sale prices of flat houses and twin villas during Q1 saw moderate increases of 2.1 percent and 2.2 percent respectively, while link houses saw quoted prices rise 2.9 percent. More notable increases were seen in shop houses and villas, where price growth was recorded at 3.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Green light for $161M Kandal brewery Phnom Penh Post 6th Apr 2020
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) last week approved a $160.6 million brewery in Chhak Chhoeu Neang commune’s Trapaing Veng village in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district. The project is invested in by Hanuman Beverages Co Ltd and is expected to generate 1,545 jobs, the CDC said. Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation spokesman Oum Sotha told The Post on Monday that it welcomed the project, which he said will help meet local and foreign market demands.

Indonesia

Indonesian Govt to intensify labor-intensive infrastructure projects Antara News 8th Apr 2020
The Indonesian government will intensify manpower-intensive infrastructure projects in different parts of Indonesia to offer employment to members of the low-income community to maintain their purchasing power amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Manpower-intensive infrastructure projects are also aimed at boosting economic growth and distributing funds to villages and rural areas," Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimoeljono noted in a statement that ANTARA received here on Wednesday. In implementing these labor-intensive infrastructure projects to maintain the purchasing power of people from the low-income group and to reduce unemployment, the social distancing measures will consistently be imposed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, he explained.

New concession model introduced to monetise existing Government/SOE infrastructure assets - Allen & Overy Allen Overy 2nd Apr 2020
On 18 February 2020, the Government introduced a new legal framework on the limited concessions scheme (LCS) in the infrastructure sector. The new rule is Presidential Regulation No. 32 of 2020 on Financing of Infrastructure through Limited Right of Utilisation (Reg 32).

Laos

Last Mekong River bridge completed on China-Laos Railway The Asset 8th Apr 2020
The Ban Ladhan Mekong River Super Major Bridge has completed its main section closure over the Mekong River, marking the end of major engineering work along the China-Laos Railway, a major Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. The new railway will run from Lao‘s capital city of Vientiane to the border city of Boten, where it will connect with the Chinese rail network to Kunming. The main contractor on the Ban Ladhan Bridge is the China Railway No. 8 Engineering Group.

Coronavirus Delays Construction on Lao-China Railway Radio Free Asia 7th Apr 2020
The nearly-finished railway project that would connect landlocked Laos with China is facing construction delays due to manpower shortages resulting from the coronavirus crisis, according to local government officials. Laos, which reported its first two confirmed cases of the deadly virus only late last month, had been spared from the effects of the global pandemic for most of February and March, but recently Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ordered a limit on the numbers of workers, requiring that nonessential workers remain home. In some industries this has led to a complete shutdown, but in the construction sector, it has resulted in projects continuing with fewer laborers on hand.

Ministry Orders Temporary Suspension of Mining Activities, Hydropower Construction Laotian Times 6th Apr 2020
The Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines has ordered the temporary suspension of mineral processing plants and hydropower construction projects under a new notice issued yesterday. The notice, signed by Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Thongphat Inthavong, orders the temporary closure of factories and processing plants following the announcement that an employee of Phu Bia Mining Limited had tested positive for Covid-19.

233 infrastructure development projects to be implemented in Laos in 2020 Xinhua 6th Apr 2020
A total of 233 projects will be implemented in Laos under the Poverty Reduction Fund in 2020, of which a majority are infrastructure development schemes. The 233 projects will be implemented by the Poverty Reduction Fund under Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in the Fund's main target areas in 23 districts of the six provinces of Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu.

Malaysia

MBAM and Rehda will work together to combat Covid-19 NST Online 14th Apr 2020
The local property and construction sectors say they will work for hand in hand to contain the spread of Covid-19 during the Movement Control Order (MCO). The government last Friday announced that some construction activities will be allowed to carry out works during Phase 3 of the MCO, with the strict implementation of a specific Site Operating Procedures (SOP) to prevent the pandemic from spreading at work sites. In a joint statement, Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) and the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia said this move will surely help the industry and it's related 140 upstream and downstream industries.

CIDB postpones International Construction Week in light of Covid-19 Borneo Post Online 13th Apr 2020
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) will postpone the International Construction Week (ICW) scheduled for June 23 to 25 to next year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. CIDB Malaysia chief executive Datuk Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid said their top priority was the health and safety of the invited speakers, participants and visitors.

Contractors glad they can work NST Online 12th Apr 2020
Contractors have cautiously welcomed the government’s decision allowing several critical sectors, including construction and related services, to resume operations during the Movement Control Order (MCO). While the move brought relief to contractors, especially those in Grade G1 and G2 categories, they are worried that the damage to the construction sector would worsen if no measures are taken. Malaysian Bumiputera Contractors Association president Datuk Azman Yusoff said the MCO had caused 10 per cent of 40,000 G1 and G2 Bumiputera contractors to go bankrupt.

Court rules on challenges to AIAC and statutory adjudication International Law Office 7th Apr 2020
A high court recently issued the first decision regarding a constitutional challenge of the legitimacy of statutory adjudication under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (CIPAA). In this case, the high court was also confronted with a challenge of the appointment of the late Vinayak Pradhan as the then director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) and the immunity asserted by the AIAC, Pradhan and the adjudicator. The legal action was initiated by way of an originating summons. Alongside Pradhan and the AIAC, Kinta Bakti Sdn Bhd and Soh Lieh Seng were named as the first and second defendants in the action. The minister of works, the minister of law and the government were subsequently named as the fifth, sixth and seventh defendants after the action had commenced. The action arose from an adjudication under the CIPAA between Mega Sasa Sdn Bhd and Kinta Bakti. Soh was appointed by Pradhan as the adjudicator in that adjudication.

RM2.9bil contracts for construction sector in Q1, up 55pct year-on-year NST Online 7th Apr 2020
The local construction sector has been awarded a total of RM2.9 billion contracts in the first quarter of the year. This was a 55 per cent growth quarter-on-quarter but a 40 per cent contraction year-on-year, according to Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd (HLIB). The firm said infrastructure contracts remained weak, declining 10 per cent q-o-q and 63 per cent y-o-y during the first three months.

Continuation of large-scale infra projects to provide additional lift to economic growth - BNM The Edge Markets 3rd Apr 2020
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said the continuation of large-scale infrastructure projects will provide additional lift to the economic growth amid the challenging economic conditions. In a press conference on April 3, BNM estimated that capital spending on major transport infrastructure projects of about RM15 billion is expected to lift 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) by 1 percentage point (ppt).  The total size of some key projects under construction are Mass Rapid Transit Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line, also known as MRT2 (RM30.5 billion), Light Rail Transit Bandar Utama–Klang line, Line 3 (LRT3) (RM16.6 billion), and Pan Borneo Highway (RM32.5 billion). These projects have a combined construction cost of RM79.6 billion. On March 27, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said during the unveiling of the Covid-19 stimulus package that the government will continue the implementation of all projects allocated in Budget 2020 including the MRT2, East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). On April 3, the central bank said Malaysia's GDP is projected at between -2% and 0.5% in 2020 against a highly challenging global economic outlook due mainly to the Covid-19 pandemic.

MPM takes over Labuan Liberty terminal, plans RM10 million upgrading works NST Online 1st Apr 2020
Megah Port Management Sdn Bhd (MPM) has taken over the management of Labuan Liberty Terminal today and will be handling the operation and facility management of the port for the next 6 years. Further, MPM has also allocated RM10 million for upgrading works. “We need to optimise the usage of Labuan Port by upgrading some of the facilities. Some of the works include repairing container yards and enhancing fire safety systems and warehouses at the port.

Kumpulan Powernet wins RM354m Perak hydropower plant project The Edge Markets 31st Mar 2020
Kumpulan Powernet Bhd (KPower) has been awarded a RM354 million deal to construct five mini hydropower plants in Perak with a total capacity of 32.47 megawatts. It was awarded by Kangsar Hidro Sdn Bhd, which is 15% owned by Perak state-owned Yayasan Perak and 85% owned by Kangsar Capital Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of OHP Ventures Sdn Bhd. In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, KPower said the award was constituted as recurrent related party transaction (RRPT) due to the relationship between its directors and Kangsar Hidro. In particular, KPower’s deputy chairman and group managing director Mustakim Mat Nun and group chief financial officer Amirul Afif Abd Aziz were deemed interested parties as both of them hold directorships and major stakes in OHP Ventures. It was previously reported that Mustakim and Amirul own stakes of 51% and 30% respectively in OHP Group. In today’s filing, KPower said the company and Kangsar Hidro will enter into a definitive agreement within 60 business days. The scope of work of the award includes preliminary study, engineering, construction, supervision, testing, commission, reliability test, defect remediation and provision of all equipment relating to the project. The target completion date for the project is within 48 months from the commencement date or before Dec 24, 2024.

Healthcare and infrastructure to benefit The Star Online 28th Mar 2020
“The economic stimulus package of RM250bil benefits four million households and the SME sector. Everyone benefits from this second supplier budget. The biggest impact of this well-thought-out economic stimulus package is that it instills confidence of retail and institutional investors, ” says former investment banker Ian Yoong. Sectoral wise, perhaps the only two that are the beneficiaries and will see a flurry of activities are healthcare and infrastructure. “For these sectors, quite a big amount is being channelled in. While the RM500mil being channelled to the healthcare sector is predominantly meant to fight the Covid-19 disease, there will still be an element of the multiplier effect, ” says Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd vice-president of research Vincent Lau.(pic below)“Meanwhile the RM2bil worth of infrastructure projects that starts in April is meaningful. This means that shovels will be hitting the construction sites next week and these workers will have money in their pockets. Meanwhile, the infrastructure sector will have some RM4bil worth of contracts. The first RM2bil were announced in the first stimulus package and will kick off in April. This means that by April, construction sites will be back to being busy, and workers will be getting their wages. These first batch of projects include infrastructure projects in the Felda area and others worth RM600mil, rehabilitation projects for poorly maintained schools in Sabah and Sarawak worth RM350mil and projects to rehabilitate houses for the rakyat at RM150mil.

SunCon clinches RM508m highway project in India NST Online 26th Mar 2020
Sunway Construction Group Bhd (SunCon) has bagged a RM508 milion contract from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). SunCon, in a statement on March 26, said the project was awarded to Sunway Construction Sdn Bhd – RNS Infrastructure Ltd, a consortium formed by Sunway Construction Sdn Bhd and RNS Infrastructure Ltd. The project consists of developing a new road and widening of the existing road to four lanes on a 36.75 kilometer highway stretch in the state of Tamil Nadu. The project will be operated under the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM), where NHAI will pay 40 per cent of the project cost during the construction period. The remaining 60 per cent will be paid over a period of 15 years as fixed annuity amount.  HAM is an initiative by the government of India, which was introduced to have a better financial mechanism for road development. The project also includes a 15-year operations and maintenance contract which will bring about an additional RM4 million per annum.

Myanmar

Pandemic delays construction of Tarmwe market The Myanmar Times 8th Apr 2020
The construction of the Tarmwe township market in Yangon will be further delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said. The planning is almost done for the construction of temporary stalls for shop owners, said U Hla Thein, a regional MP for Tarmwe. He said that even if the 600 temporary stalls are completed, the construction of the market could not start immediately as everybody in the country is focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

China committed to investing in Myanmar despite COVID-19 pandemic: Ambassador The Myanmar Times 30th Mar 2020
China will support Myanmar economically and continue its infrastructure push in the country despite the setbacks caused by COVID-19, China’s ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Hai, told The Myanmar Times during an exclusive interview. Just last week, the foreign ministry announced that China would provide US$6.78 million to Myanmar for 22 projects under the Beijing-led initiative Mekong-Lancang Cooperation. When asked what major challenges Chinese companies faced when investing in Myanmar, Ambassador Chen Hai referenced underdeveloped infrastructure, and efficiency, nothing though that Myanmar has made great effort to cultivate a more welcoming investment climate.

Commerce and Conflict: Navigating Myanmar’s China Relationship Crisis Group 30th Mar 2020
The relationship between Myanmar and China has always been coloured by mutual distrust, and Myanmar has tried to balance China’s influence by seeking out other strategic relationships, in the region and beyond. But since the brutal violence against the Rohingya of 2016-2017 strained its relations with the West and much of the Global South, Naypyitaw has come to rely even more heavily on Beijing. As it is pushed further in this direction, both countries must ensure that the mega projects and many other smaller private investments that China has proposed do not exacerbate armed conflict in various parts of Myanmar.

Philippines

San Miguel builds quarantine facility for military personnel BusinessMirror 14th Apr 2020
San Miguel Corp. on Tuesday said it is building 10 emergency quarantine facilities near military hospitals to house the personnel who have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) but have mild or no symptoms. The company said the move is also aimed at easing pressure on health facilities flooded by patients needing intensive medical treatment. Company President and COO Ramon S. Ang said the company is looking for more areas where prototype hospital facilities can be built as existing emergency rooms of hospitals brace for a surge of patients.

JLL says lockdown prompting real estate companies to go digital Business World 13th Apr 2020
The current enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other select areas across the country is pushing the real estate sector to accelerate the digitalization of operations. In a recent report by property services firm JLL Philippines, it said real estate players will have to adapt faster to the market’s changing demand as the quarantine poses new needs from emerging work environments. Since the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon mid-March, demand for office space in Metro Manila has slumped. The residential segment likewise saw clients pulling out of their spaces, proven by the reopening of condominium units in different residential projects. JLL said this resulted in an increased use of online platforms to seal new transactions, and in worse cases, developers planning to postpone project launches.

DPWH, EEI and Villar Group complete construction in 7 days By DPWH Phl Information Agency 8th Apr 2020
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with the support of private firms EEI Corporation and the Villar-led Vista Land Group have completed the construction works of the health facility at Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum Halls in just 7 days. Secretary Mark A. Villar announced that civil works for the makeshift hospital at PICC Forum Tent are already completed with 294 patient cubicles, 6 nurse stations, and 6 smart houses outside the Forum building for the health workers. The fully airconditioned health facility at PICC complex will soon cater to patients with mild to moderate cases of corona virus disease (COVID-19) once medical equipment, such as hospital beds are installed and disinfection activities are completed. “The Philippine National Police (PNP) Medical Corps will manage the health service operation of PICC Forum Tent quarantine facility”, added Secretary Villar.

Govt eyes to keep BBB funds intact to boost economy after Covid-19 crisis BusinessMirror 8th Apr 2020
The government is trying to leave the budget for big ticket projects under its Build, Build Build (BBB) programs untouched as it looks for additional funds for the government’s Covid-19 response.  Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles explained the large-scale BBB projects would be crucial in government efforts to “jump start” the economy once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)  in Luzon is lifted.   He, however noted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is authorized to realign the budget for BBB projects under the Republic Act (RA) No. 11469.

Limited work for 13 rail projects allowed Business World 7th Apr 2020
The government will allow “limited work” for 13 rail projects amid a lockdown in Luzon to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday. An inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet secretaries had approved the request of the Department of Transportation to allow limited work including rail replacement for MRT-3, whose operation had been suspended. The task force asked the agency to limit personnel use, provide accommodations and shuttle services and regularly disinfect workplaces, shuttles and temporary shelters.

Palace freezes P30.824-billion infra projects, realigns fund to LGUs BusinessMirror 7th Apr 2020
President Duterte has approved the discontinuation of P30.824 billion worth of infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to fund the grant of financial assistance to local government units (LGUs). The government said the fund will be sourced from the infrastructure projects of DPWH classified as “For Later Release” under the FY 2020 General Appropriations Act, or Republic Act 11465. The President also authorized the realignment of generated savings for the said grant equivalent to one-month Internal Revenue Allotment of the city/municipality, subject to the availability of funds, and pertinent budgetary, accounting and auditing laws rules and regulations.

Build, Build, Build to hit targets despite COVID-19 Business World 5th Apr 2020
The government’s aggressive infrastructure program will still meet its target completions for the year despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic temporarily stopping the projects. Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar said in a Friday briefing that while work on the building projects under the administration’s flagship program “Build, Build, Build” might have stopped at the moment, he still sees that they will be able to meet their 2020 target of completion.

Singapore

COVID-19 Construction: Considerations for the Singapore (Temporary Measures) Act : Clyde & Co (en) Clyde & Co. 14th Apr 2020
The Construction industry in Singapore was amongst the first affected by COVID-19, with contractors reporting difficulties in getting plant, equipment and personnel out of China after Chinese New Year. Things have gone from bad to worse and, except for some projects which are deemed essential, all building works in Singapore have now ceased for the “Circuit Breaker Period”, except for some exempted works such as maintenance of structural safety, vector control and environmental protection.  However, the general relief provided by the act is available for all construction and supply contracts in Singapore (as defined in the Security of Payments legislation).  Further specific relief is provided to construction contracts including a bar on calls on performance bonds arising as a result of a COVID-19 event until 7 days before the date of expiry of the relevant bond.  A contractor who is concerned that this 7 day period is approaching can make an application to the issuer of the bond for an extension, in which case the Act intervenes to automatically extend the bond to a date 7 days after the period of temporary relief.

Responding to COVID-19: Temporary Relief in Singapore for Inability to Perform Contractual Obligations Morgan Lewis 2nd Apr 2020
The Ministry of Law of Singapore announced the introduction of a new bill on 1 April aimed at protecting individuals and businesses that are unable to fulfil their contractual obligations because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The public health measures imposed by governments around the world in response to the pandemic, including travel bans and restrictions, city lockdowns, and the quarantine of individuals, have resulted in business and supply chain disruptions and manpower shortages – undermining the ability of individuals and businesses to fulfil their contractual obligations.

Close to $100 billion earmarked for land transport projects for next 10 years The Straits Times 27th Mar 2020
Nearly $100 billion has been set aside to build road, rail and active mobility projects over the next decade, according to Budget 2020 statements. New rail projects account for the biggest chunk of $87.5 billion. The amount includes money budgeted for completion of the Thomson-East Coast line (TEL), Jurong Region Line and Phase 1 of the Cross Island Line (CRL), as well as advanced engineering studies for the western leg of the CRL.

Sembcorp Design and Construction bags $433m biosolid treatment deal The Straits Times 27th Mar 2020
A $433 million contract to build a biosolid treatment facility for the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) has been awarded to Sembcorp Design and Construction (SDC). National water agency PUB said in a statement yesterday that SDC will construct Tuas WRP's energy-efficient biosolids building, digesters and greasy waste receiving facility. Works will start next month and are due to be completed in 2025.

Thailand

Thailand plans $33 billion public-private investment projects Reuters 15th Apr 2020
Thailand plans public-private partnership (PPP) projects worth 1.09 trillion baht ($33.39 billion) during 2020-2027, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, as the government tries to revive the struggling economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 92-project plan includes 18 high-priority infrastructure projects worth 472 billion baht, Prapas Kong-Ied, head of the State Enterprise Policy Office, said in a statement.

Deferral sought on signing rail contract Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will this week ask its board to defer the signing of "Contract 2.3" for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway to October this year. SRT deputy governor Worawut Mala said the signing of the 50.6-billion-baht contract is currently unable to proceed due to a lack of agreement on the cost of tracks, the signalling system and procurement of train carriages. Moreover, the 28th Thai-Chinese Joint Committee (JC) meeting in which the contract was due to be signed cannot take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

New SRT chief vows to cut debt Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The newly appointed governor of the State Railway of Thailand, Nirut Maneephan, has vowed to tackle the agency's mammoth debt of over 100 billion baht. Speaking after meeting Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday, Mr Nirut said he was not intimidated by the ailing company's financial status, before saying that he has his sights set on reversing the losses.

Canal service gets new lease on life Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
Covid-19 may have brought most social activities and businesses to a halt, but the government's march to develop Thailand's transport infrastructure pushes on. For example, the Ministry of Transport decided to take advantage of the absence of passengers to upgrade Bangkok's Don Mueang airport, so it could better serve travellers once the outbreak subsides. But most recently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on March 30 approved a plan to purchase electric boats to serve commuters along Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem in Bangkok's Old Town.

NESDC ordered to rejig strategies Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
The state planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), has been ordered to revise the 20-year national strategy (2018-37) and the 12th national economic and social development plan (2017-21) to keep abreast of changing social and economic trends caused by the global economic slowdown and the pandemic. The 15 projects are split into several groups: social and economic restructuring in an effort to increase competitiveness; upgrading Thais' skills; projects that can create a balance between social and economic growth; infrastructure projects that can drive long-term economic growth; and projects that can generate income to create sustainable growth.

Labour Ministry readying more help Bangkok Post 11th Apr 2020
The Labour Ministry will next week ask the cabinet to approve a fresh proposal on financial aid for another group of 800,000 workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul. He said these workers are not covered by the relief measures so far approved by the cabinet which are applicable only to those who lost their jobs or were suspended due to the government's order to shut down businesses to contain the outbreak. He said the ministry is working on a long-term plan to help those affected in response to an estimate that by June the number of jobless who are subscribers of the Social Security Fund will increase to 7.13 million. Of them, 4.2 million are in the department store and retail sector, one million in construction, 978,000 in the hotel industry, 250,000 in restaurant businesses, 239,600 in spa and massage shops and 200,000 in textiles.

Property outlook negative Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
Tris Rating holds a negative view on the residential property industry in Thailand. Although the Covid-19 pandemic may not directly affect the industry, it is causing severe damage to the overall economy. As the domestic economy is already fragile and heavily reliant on tourism and exports, the virus pandemic could cause a contraction. The more prolonged the outbreak, the greater the impact on the property industry. Assuming the Covid-19 outbreak is contained in the first half of this year, residential property sales could still decline by as much as 20-30% from last year.

Mixed-use projects drive Lat Phrao Bangkok Post 3rd Apr 2020
Completion of the skytrain's Sukhumvit Line extension from Kasetsart University to Khu Kot this year should mean increased traffic near Lat Phrao intersection, with developers planning mixed-use projects worth a combined 50 billion baht over the next few years. Phattarachai Taweewong, associate director of research at property consultant Colliers International Thailand, said areas from Lat Phrao intersection to Chatuchak have Bang Sue Grand Station driving new traffic. The new railway hub is expected to carry more than 100,000 passengers a day.

Developers in crisis mode Bangkok Post 30th Mar 2020
As the coronavirus crisis crushes global and national GDP growth, property-related firms are rolling out expense controls and business continuity plans while seeking new revenue sources and ways to minimise the impact on their customers. With the prospect of a market slowdown as presales and revenue at many developers continue to drop, 2020 is likely to be worse than last year.

Vietnam

PM asks Đồng Nai to expedite site clearance for Long Thành International Airport vietnamnews.vn 8th Apr 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc urged Đồng Nai Province to make every effort to quickly complete site clearance covering 5,000ha for the construction of Long Thành International Airport, during a teleconference with the southern province’s leaders on Wednesday. He emphasised the work was an important political mission for Đồng Nai's authorities and would contribute to building a giant construction project of national importance. The goal was to wrap up site clearance as early as possible so the airport would be completed by 2025 or earlier, as set by the National Assembly, he said.

Vietravel Airlines’ plan for first flights postponed due to COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2020
The country’s newest carrier Vietravel Airlines has delayed its launch plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline was given principle approval from the Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to start operations in October, but the plans have been put on hold. Founded by one of the country’s largest tour operators Vietravel, the airline is scheduled to start commercial operations in the third quarter of this year with a fleet of three airplanes, which could be raised to eight by 2025.

Vietnam Airlines adjusts flights to Da Nang due to new quarantine policy VietnamPlus 5th Apr 2020
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced on April 5 that it will adjust the frequency of its flights from Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang after the central city requires a 14-day quarantine period for passengers from the two major cities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the carrier will conduct three flights per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on each route from April 7-15. It continues operating one flight a day from Hanoi to HCM City and vice versa.

Vietnam PM approves establishment of Vietravel Airlines hanoitimes.vn 4th Apr 2020
The airline is scheduled to start operation in the second quarter this year with a fleet of three airplanes, which could be raised to eight by 2024. Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on April 3 approved the proposal to set up Vietravel Airlines with a capital base of VND700 billion (US$29.72 million), local media reported. Vietravel Airlines, owned by Vietnam’s leading tour operator Vietravel, plans to provide charter flights for its own tourists and general passengers. In the first year of operation, Vietravel Airlines would operate a fleet of three airplanes and increase the number to eight by 2024.

Vietnam Railways only operates a couple of trains from April 1 on COVID-19 fight  Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 2nd Apr 2020
State-owned railway giant Vietnam Railways is now running only a couple of trains on the north-south network to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Vietnam Railways (VNR) has introduced the changes from April 1, in line with the government’s Directive No.16/CT-TTg and those from the Ministry of Transport on urgent measures to prevent and fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic. Accordingly, SE3 train departs from Hanoi Railway station at 7:25 pm everyday, while the SE4 train departs from the Saigon railway station at 20:30 pm.

Trà Vinh to build two erosion prevention projects vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2020
The Trà Vinh Province People’s Committee has approved the construction of two embankment projects worth a total of VNĐ260 billion (US$11 million) to prevent river and coastal erosion. A 1.1km embankment section will be built along the Láng Thé River in Càng Long District’s Đại Phước Commune. It will cost VNĐ60 billion and will be built in the 2020-22 period. When completed, the project will secure the safety of the district’s road along the river, and protect the safety and property of locals. The other project is a 2.5km embankment along coastal areas in Cầu Ngang and Duyên Hải districts and Duyên Hải Town. The project, which will cost VNĐ200 billion, will protect protective forests, fields and sea dykes when it is finished in 2023.

Investors sought for key Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu projects vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2020
Authorities in the Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province have been asked to speed up procedures so that investors can be sought for important projects. At a meeting held on March 31, Lê Quốc Tuấn, deputy chairman of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu’s People’s Committee, said that land clearance compensation for important projects must be carried out by local authorities, and that related procedures must be completed soon. The Department of Planning and Investment must create documents to guide the investors bidding process. As for the Lâm Viên Núi Dinh Tourism Area, the department is expected to report on how its investment will be carried out, and the People’s Committee will select an investor for the project if the department is unable to choose one.

Lotte E&C completes pre-feasibility study for Yen Vien-Lao Cai railway route Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 1st Apr 2020
Three years after receiving the approval from the Ministry of Transport, Lotte Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. (Lotte E&C), a member of South Korean giant Lotte Group, completed the pre-feasibility study for the second phase of the project to upgrade the Yen Vien-Lao Cai railway route. This report is a demonstration of Lotte E&C's determination to develop the Yen Vien-Lao Cai railway route. This is because the Ministry of Transport warned the investor in a document that the route is not on the list of public-private partnership (PPP) projects it calls for investment, thus the investors have to build the report on their own and there are expected to be many potential investors to compete for the project.

Airlines to stop carrying passengers to Vietnam from April 1 Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 1st Apr 2020
The Ministry of Transport has asked airlines to stop carrying passengers to Vietnam as from 00:00 of April 1 until the end of April 15 as part of measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. In an urgent dispatch to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the ministry stated that the suspension will not be applied to those entering Vietnam for diplomatic and official purposes, for participation in major diplomatic events, as well as to experts, business managers, highly skilled workers, and those receiving entry approval of the national committee on COVID-19 prevention and control.

Cần Thơ to become first smart city in Mekong Delta by 2025 Việt Nam News 1st Apr 2020
Võ Thị Hồng Ánh, vice chairwoman of Cần Thơ City People’s Committee, said the project aims to make the city to become the first smart city in the southwestern region by 2025. The Department of Planning and Investment is building technical platforms to develop an e-government model, while the Department of Transport has started using IT to manage urban transport services. Two years ago, Cần Thơ City signed a cooperation agreement with the Việt Nam Posts and Communications Group (VNPT) to develop its smart city project by 2025.

Deputy PM calls for setting up managing unit for delayed expressway project vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2020
The Government Office said Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng has ordered the setting up of a managing unit for the Bến Lức-Long Thành Expressway project. According to the Vietnam Expressway Development and Investment Corporation (VEC), which is building the highway, the lack of a managing unit to decide on investment has led to a delay in the project. Dũng has directed the Government Office to quickly complete procedures for setting up the managing unit.

Vietnam’s public investment disbursement up in first quarter Nhan Dan Online 29th Mar 2020
Vietnam’s public investment disbursement in the first quarter of 2020 increased by 16.4% compared with the same period in 2019. According to the General Statistics Office, the positive sign is thanks to the government’s efforts to accelerate public investment disbursement to offset the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. Total disbursements in the January-March period were equivalent to 13.2% of the full-year target, which was set at 18% higher than last year’s figure.

Duc Giang Chemical to develop $521 million project in Thanh Hoa Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 27th Mar 2020
Duc Giang Chemical Group JSC, the producer of Duc Giang washing powder, plans to develop the Duc Giang-Nghi Son chemical complex in Tinh Gia district, Thanh Hoa province with the total investment capital of VND12 trillion ($521.74 million). This complex is the largest investment of Duc Giang Chemical so far. To begin the project, the group will rent 80 hectares of land for 50 years sometime between April and September. The construction will be divided into three phases. The first phase has a total investment capital of VND2 trillion ($86.96 million), VND600 billion ($26.1 million) of which comes from company equity and the remaining VND1.4 trillion ($60.87 million) from loans.