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BUDGET 2008: STRATEGY – Some govt units moving out to free up city space

20,000 sq m or more will be available to private sector

THE government has decided to relocate several agencies out of the Central Area to free up space of 20,000 square metres or more by first quarter next year for use by the private sector.

The space being released, which will help to address the office space shortage in the near term, is equivalent to 20 floors or more of an office tower block in Suntec City.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam did not identify the government agencies that will be moving out of the city but market watchers suggest that they may include Singapore Land Authority, which currently occupies several floors at Temasek Tower near Tanjong Pagar MRT Station; the Energy Market Authority, which is housed in Singapore Power Building on Somerset Road; Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, located at Plaza by The Park on Bras Basah Road; and Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore, now at Suntec City.

The Workforce Development Agency, housed at One Marina Boulevard, has also been highlighted by market watchers as being a possible candidate for relocation out of its prime CBD offices.

The Economic Development Board is expected to vacate its offices at Raffles City when its lease expires next year and move into Fusionopolis at one-north in Buona Vista.

Market watchers suggest that some of these government agencies with public counters are likely to move to city fringe locations, rather than to outlying areas to minimise inconvenience to the public. ‘Vacant state properties could be their new homes,’ an industry observer reckons.

In his Budget speech, Mr Tharman noted that in the short term, Singapore faces tight office space capacity, caused by the surge in business growth, especially in the business and financial sector.

‘Office rentals have risen sharply. Although office space still costs 30 to 50 per cent less in Singapore on average, compared to Hong Kong and Tokyo, the pace of cost increases has been rapid and unsettling for businesses,’ he added.

‘The tightness in office space should ease over the medium term, with the completion of major projects currently under construction, such as phases one and two 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.’

To address the problem in the short term, the government has released a total of 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 new regional centres, Mr Tharman noted.

Source: Business Times 16 Feb 08


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