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BUDGET 2008: More office sites in the offing to ease space crunch

AT LEAST 20,000 sq m of office space – equivalent to 20 floors or more of an Suntec City block – will be freed up to help the private sector deal with the space crunch.

The initiative will kick in by early next year.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the tight supply of office space, a short-term problem, stemmed from the surge in business growth, which has brought higher rents in its wake.

‘Although office space on average still costs 30 per cent to 50 per cent less in Singapore than in Hong Kong and Tokyo, the pace of cost increases has been rapid and unsettling for businesses,’ said Mr Tharman.

The Government is even planning to relocate several agencies out of the pricey and congested central business district (CBD). A Jones Lang LaSalle report said these could include the Economic Development Board at Raffles City, the Singapore Land Authority at Temasek Tower, and the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance at The Treasury.

Mr Donald Han, the Singapore managing director of property consultant Cushman & Wakefield, said the move was a practical one: ‘It’ll create some breathing space for the private sector. Government agencies will be better off, as they won’t need to incur the opportunity cost of prime CBD rental.’

Mr Tharman said the Government has released 15 transitional office sites and vacant state properties, which will yield 150,000 sq m of additional office space.

‘Companies are already relocating to some of these sites and to our new regional centres,’ he said.

He noted that the shortage should ease over the medium term, given the completion of big projects now under construction. These include Phases 1 and 2 of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, the Marina View sites and South Beach.

‘By 2012, we will have an additional 1.4 million sq m of office space,’ said Mr Tharman.

The Government will also defer projects worth about $1 billion to ease the pressure on construction costs. This follows a decision last November to postpone public-sector building projects worth at least $2 billion.

But the latest deferment will not affect key projects such as the expressways, the Downtown Line or NUS University Town.


Source: The Straits Times 16 Feb 08


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