Property market here robust, not near bust

Despite sell-out property launches — such as The Grand Duchess at St Patrick’s and The Ford @ Holland — Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan says the property market is not nearing a bubble.

Mr Mah told reporters on Thursday: “Looking at the overall situation, I know that there are launches which have not done well. If taken in totality, you will realise that the situation is nowhere near what it was in the mid-90s when speculation was rife.”The government is aware of the level of activity in the market and Mr Mah said there is no cause for concern at this point in time. Price increases have been limited to a “very small sector of the market”, he said, referring to the high-end property market. The rest of the market is moving, he added, but not by the same margin.

“The level of activity is underpinned by very strong economic fundamentals … it reflects the confidence that people have in Singapore,” he said, citing good growth and a strong job market.

Mr Mah was speaking at the sidelines of the official opening of Tampines Ikea on Thursday morning. The sprawling 36,000 sq m store is the first Warehouse Retail Scheme (WRS) project to take off in Singapore. Launched in 2004, the WRS provides flexibility in industrial land use by allowing companies to co-locate their integrated business models with regional headquarters, retail, ware-housing and industrial activities.

The other two WRS pilot projects in Tampines are Courts, opening middle of this month, and Giant Hypermarket, scheduled to open early next year.

Mr Mah said that similar WRS projects would be planned for outlying areas in the North and West, such as Woodlands, Sembawang and Jurong.

Addressing the concerns of the small-time heartland retailers about the proximity of the big boys, Mr Mah said: “We cannot stop new developments or discourage investments, but we can facilitate and help local businesses improve themselves to meet the challenge.”

For example, the Tampines Town Council recently formed a Business Liaison Committee and set up the Tampines Business Committee with the five Merchant Associations and business representatives in Tampines. “By pooling their resources and working together, the merchants will be able to organise big promotion events more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

Ikea, Courts and Giant Hypermarket will also be working closely with Tampines and Pasir Ris retailers via joint training workshops, promotional events and job fairs to boost retailing standards, overall demand and job opportunities.

IR winner to be announced soon

NOW that all three bidders for the Sentosa integrated resort have completed their presentations to the review committees, Mr Mah Bow Tan — who is one of the five ministers on the Tender Approving Authority — said that the Government is “taking a long, hard look at the various proposals”. Asked for when they will announce the winner, he would only say that it would be “soon”.

On the comment from Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that it would be good for Malaysia-Singapore relations if Genting International won the bid, Mr Mah said: “We have established processes for making the evaluation … and at the end of the day, we will make a decision which is based on the criteria which is objective and we believe will bring the most benefits to Singapore.”

Source: TODAY, 01 December 2006 

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