Thursday, October 11, 2007

K-Reit's Q3 Distributable Income Up 31%

Source : The Business Times, October 11, 2007

Better occupancies and higher rentals lead to improved performance

K-REIT Asia yesterday said that its third-quarter income distributable to its unitholders rose 31.3 per cent to $5.4 million - from $4.1 million a year ago - as the trust benefited from higher rents in its properties

The better performance pushed the real estate investment trust's distribution per unit to 2.23 cents, up 30.4 per cent from the 1.71 cents paid out for the same three months last year.

Net property income increased 19.7 per cent to $7.5 million, from $6.3 million a year ago.

K-Reit attributed the improved performance to higher revenues as a result of better occupancies and higher rentals achieved for new and renewed leases.

'The portfolio attained 99.6 per cent committed occupancy as at end-September 2007 on the back of continued strong underlying demand for office space,' K-Reit said. 'Average gross rental rates reached $4.43 per square foot per month (psf pm) in September 2007, from $3.71 psf pm for the same period in 2006.'

Also in the third quarter, the trust announced its maiden acquisition since its listing in April 2006.

It said it will buy parent company Keppel Land's one-third stake in One Raffles Quay for $941.5 million. The acquisition will more than double K-Reit's portfolio to $1.8 billion.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of shareholders of both Keppel Land and K-Reit at their respective extraordinary general meetings, which will be held today. Keppel Land owns about 40 per cent of K-Reit.

Going forward, K-Reit will actively seek acquisitions of prime commercial properties in Singapore and other Asian growth cities to grow its portfolio size to a targeted $2 billion, it said.

The trust said that about 70 per cent of its portfolio's net lettable area is due for renewal between 2008 and 2010, which puts it in a good position to ride on the rising rental market, which is underpinned by strong demand and tight supply.

K-Reit's shares closed one cent down at $2.95 yesterday. The stock has climbed 18 per cent since the start of the year.

Related Link -
http://tinyurl.com/2xwzvu
K-Reit's news release

http://tinyurl.com/27evxr
Financialresults

http://tinyurl.com/2ddtf9
Presentation slides

Set Up Separate CPF Plan For Risk-Takers

Source : The Business Times, October 11, 2007

TAN Keng Tat (BT, Oct 10) makes a good case for giving CPF a freer hand to generate more wealth for CPF members. His well-balanced letter also pointed out that the government's stand is that the CPF rate is low because CPF investment is risk-free and members' CPF money is guaranteed by government.

The gist of the issue is that unless one is prepared to take some risk, one cannot expect a higher return on investment. But there must be quite a number of CPF members who may be prepared to take a higher risk in return for an anticipated higher return.

Perhaps one solution is for CPF to separate members into two groups: those who are prepared to take no risk and those who are prepared to take some risk.

The present scheme can apply to the contributions of those who are prepared to take no risk.

Those who are prepared to take some risk would have to opt to be in this scheme. Their contributions can be pooled and managed by CPF with a freer hand. These members would expect a higher return each year but accept that they can suffer losses if the CPF investments turn out bad.

CPF board would probably argue that these members can already invest on their own under the CPF investment schemes. But the reality is that many of these members may not have the financial skills or the time to do so themselves.

Also, when their contributions are pulled together by CPF, there would be a bigger fund to make it viable for CPF to get professionals to manage this fund for its members.

Goh Khee Kuan
Singapore

Breaking Up May Get Easier To Do At F&N

Source : The Business Times, October 11, 2007

ONE of the conjectures making the rounds for the recent departure of Han Cheng Fong as the chief executive of Fraser & Neave was his supposed opposition to hiving off the company's three main divisions into separately listed entities.

Dr Han: He's believed to have left F&N because he was opposed to a plan to hive off F&N's three main divisions into separate listings

The talk is that the majority of F&N's board feels that the sum of the parts may be better off than the whole. And Dr Han is supposed to have been against breaking up the divisions - a move that would have meant a smaller portfolio and less control over his favourite area, property.

Go back just five years when F&N took its then-listed subsidiaries, Centrepoint Properties and Times Publishing, private.

The rationale for the action as given by then-executive chairman Michael Fam was: 'The privatisation of Centrepoint and TimesPub is aimed at restructuring F&N into a stronger and more flexible group, to further enhance shareholder value and sustain long-term growth . . . F&N, as an entrepreneurial shareholder in these companies, already plays a proactive and pivotal role in charting the strategic directions of these businesses. The privatisation of Centrepoint and TimesPub will give more flexibility in managing their resources.'

He then went on to add that 'through appropriate rationalisation and consolidation measures, we hope to realise greater synergies within the group - for instance, by sharing best practices and tapping on the combined wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise of the management teams'.

But as one observer noted: 'Things have changed since then and you have got to flow with the times.' He also pointed out that, then, the property market was in the doldrums and Centrepoint shares were selling well below their net tangible asset value. TimesPub was also trading below its NTA. So it made eminent sense for F&N to take the companies private. In fact, over the previous 10 years, F&N had, through various offers, accumulated 83.9 per cent of Centrepoint and 87.5 per cent of TimesPub when it made the offer for the two companies in November 2001.

The last traded price of Centrepoint prior to the offer was $1.68 a share compared with its then NTA of $2.23 a share while Times- Pub's last traded price was $3.60 apiece compared with its then NTA of $4.52 a share. F&N offered the minority shareholders of the two companies $2.07 and $4.48 a share respectively in a deal that cost the company a total of $320 million.

Today, despite some small setbacks partly as a result of certain government measures, the property market is on a roll, and prices of both residential and commercial properties have soared. And so have rentals and the prices of property stocks, many of which are at all-time highs.

But the printing and publishing division continues to be a laggard, and many feel that it's a drag on F&N's share price. 'F&N's share price could be 10, 20 per cent higher than what it is today, were it not for the printing and publishing sector,' said one investor, voicing the feelings of quite a number of others. F&N shares declined 10 cents to $5.70 apiece. The stock's all-time high achieved in mid-May is $6.40.

In the last financial year, F&N's properties division contributed $350.9 million in profits before interest, tax and exceptional items (PBIT) and revenues of $1.35 billion, compared with overall group PBIT of $604 million and a turn- over of $3.8 billion.

The printing and publishing section contributed only $22.4 million in PBIT on revenues of $490.95 million.

The biggest contributor in terms of revenue was the food and beverage sector, which reported $1.94 billion in turnover, but in PBIT terms, it was second to property with profits of $227.88 million.

With a new chairman to be installed next week, and no CEO in place, it is unlikely that a break-up will take place this year. But perhaps investors will see a new F&N and a listed Frasers Centrepoint and Times Publishing some time next year. Investors can then focus on where they want to put their money.

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between Sept 17- 22, 2007

Manhattan Mansion


















Address : 76 Grange Road
P.S : High demand as it is a 8-minute walk to Orchard Road.






















Map Source : http://www.streetdirectory.com

District : 10
Developer : Springleaf Homes (ban Hin Leong Group)
Tenure : Freehold
TOP : Dec 1996
Total Units : 29 units

Unit Size
3+1 1500-1700 sqft
4+1 2380sqft (2 Attached Bathrooms)

For Rental : 3+1 1500sqft. Asking $6200/mth negotiabe



















Features & Facilities :-
-Central Vacuum Cleaning System & Air Conditioned Kitchens.
-Private Lift Lobby
-Swimming Pool
-Basement Carpark
-24 Hours Security

K-Reit Asia’s Income Rise By 31%

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007

Local firm K-Reit Asia will distribute 2.23 cents a unit for the July to September quarter.

The commercial property investor said its distributable income for the quarter totalled $5.4 million, up 31.3 per cent from a year earlier, due to higher occupancy and rental rates.

Net property income rose 19.7 per cent in the third quarter to $7.5 million, K-Reit said. — DOW JONES

Rising S’pore Dollar Could Reach New Highs, Boosting Economy

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007

A SURPRISE monetary tightening by Singapore’s central bank pushed the Singapore dollar up sharply and put it on track to match its all-time high set in 1995.

The stronger Singapore dollar will help cap mounting price pressures in the city state but will not cause exporters to lose their competitive footing against regional rivals because other Asian currencies are also on an upward course against a swooning US dollar, analysts said.

“The stronger Singapore dollar is not going to put a massive downward pressure
on exports,” said Ms Prakriti Sofat, an HSBC economist.

“The appreciation is still going to be very gradual and we think the Government is going to be very cautious about maintaining economic growth.”

The Singapore dollar rose to a 10-year high against the US currency early yesterday after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it would “increase slightly” the slope of its undisclosed tradeweighted currency band. The US dollar fell to $1.4631 — a point last reached in July 1997 — from $1.4720 just before the MAS issued the statement.

Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin said the new policy may allow the tradeweighted currency to rise an extra 0.2 to 0.5 percentage points each year beyond the estimated 1.9 per cent rate allowed previously. He expects the US dollar to finish next year at S$1.3900 compared to a previous forecast of S$1.4100.

That target is just above the Singapore dollar’s record high set in May 1995, when the greenback fetched only S$1.3835. The Singapore dollar may approach the record more quickly if the country’s red-hot economy maintains momentum, Mr Chua said.

“Further MAS tightening may be necessary next year, via more ‘slight’ finetuning,” Mr Chua said. “Lower Singapore dollar interest rates, following the Fed rate cuts, have exacerbated demand pressures.”

The more hawkish stance by Singapore’s central bank stems from concerns that rising inflation could pose a growing risk to the economy, which has been booming on growth in financial services and surging output of pharmaceuticals and offshore oil rigs.

The MAS statement noted the local three-month interbank interest rate has fallen to about 2.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent in February. It forecast inflation would stay within a 1.5-to-2-per-cent range this year and 2 to 3 per cent next year, but warned about the impending impact of rising residential rents and property prices.

This means Singapore, which uses the foreign exchange rate to influence prices because external trade dwarfs the domestic economy, would likely be willing to let its currency rise at a moderately faster pace.

HSBC’s Ms Sofat said the strength in the Singapore dollar is in line with gains in other Asian currencies. The Singapore dollar has gained about 5 per cent against the US dollar in 2007 while the Chinese yuan has risen 4 per cent and the Malaysian ringgit is up nearly 10 per cent.

“The MAS is keeping a conservative view and it’s unlikely we’ll see exports threatened,” she said, expecting Singapore’s economy to decelerate only slightly next year from the MAS’ 7 to 8 per cent target for 2007.

The central bank said it expects the economy to expand by 4 to 6 per cent in 2008, but both HSBC and Citigroup expect a higher rate of expansion. — DOW JONES

Good News For The Common Man

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007



















THE Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) data released yesterday sprung two surprises.

First, the Singapore economy grew by 9.4 per cent year-onyear in the third quarter, with all sectors putting in a strong performance. The manufacturing sector picked up speed in time for the Christmas holiday season.

In addition, second quarter GDP growth was also revised up 0.1 percentage point to 8.7 per cent year-on-year due to higher construction growth (18.8 per cent versus 17.6 per cent initially estimated).

Even the MAS noted that the “Singapore economy has performed better than expected thus far in 2007”, notably the “non-IT industries and asset market-related activities” such as property, financial advisory and capital markets”.

This is good news for the man on the street as GDP growth is “on track to come in at the upper end of the 7 to 8 per cent forecast range this year”.

In fact, our forecast for full year growth has been revised up from 7.9 to 8.2 per cent taking into consideration the 9.4 per cent flash estimate, suggesting that there is potential to exceed the Government’s forecast.

Despite the weaker growth prospects for the US economy, the non-IT manufacturing, construction and business services, which are more dependent on regional and domestic sources of demand as well as developments in specific product markets, have proved remarkably resilient for the Singapore economy.

Biomedical manufacturing and transport engineering clusters should continue to outperform electronics, albeit even the latter is showing signs of improvement in the third quarter.

On the services side, financial and tourism-related industries should continue to do well, riding on the ongoing property boom and two integrated resorts projects.

Barring any further sub-primerelated surprises, 2008 growth is also likely to surprise on the upside too. Our forecast is 6.5 per cent — above the Government’s official growth forecast of 4 to 6 per cent.

The second surprise, however, caught financial market players somewhat off-guard. MAS indicated that it “will increase slightly the slope of the Singapore Dollar Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (S$NEER) policy band” to cap inflationary pressure and ensure price stability over the medium term while keeping the gradual and modest appreciation of the S$NEER.

This “slight” slope steepening in the S$NEER is an unprecedented move by the MAS and suggests a greater concern towards inflationary pressures in the medium term on the back of a fairly sanguine and robust growth outlook.

Higher inflation is here to stay and this will impact the pocket of the average person. Headline consumer prices are likely to cross 3 per cent in the remaining months of this year and run as high as 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2008 due to the GST hike and base effects of lower energy and car prices in the first half of 2007, before easing in the second half to achieve 2 to 3 per cent for full-year 2008.

While the 2 percentage-point GST increase in July explains part of the accelerating inflation, other factors are also at play — higher global oil and food prices, a tight labour market and rising property prices will continue to pressure the Consumer Price Index higher. The cycle of rising wages and domestic consumption imply that domestic demand drivers will increase in importance.

Our initial take is that the slope steepening, as opposed to the other alternative of re-centreing the band higher at pre-announcement levels, represents a more hawkish policy signal.

Over the medium term, this suggests greater latitude for the S$NEER appreciation if the need so arises compared to a band recentreing.

Given that inflation is expected to clock an average of 2.2 per cent for 2007 and 2008 (based on inflation of 1.9 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent next year), we can impute a 3 per cent appreciation bias for our S$NEER, from 2 per cent previously.

We expect the USD-SGD to trade lower towards 1.4250 (central tendency) in 12 months while in the nearer term, the pair is likely to end the year at 1.4500. This means cheaper holidays and shopping in the United States, but be prepared to fork out more for domestic goods and services.

Ms Selena Ling is a Treasury Economist at OCBC Bank.

More ERP Gantries Not The Best Solution

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007

Letter from KHOO LIH-HAN

TO GET a feel of how frustrating the heavy traffic is despite the ERP system, I urge the officials concerned to travel on the expressways during peak hour on any given day.

Increasing ERP charges and the number of gantries is easily implemented, but it will not solve the problem, as the number of vehicles remains the same. A more precise solution should be drawn up.


Letter from WILFRED ONG CHIEW LENG

AS A frequent user of the CTE towards Ang Mo Kio in the evening, I am concerned about the appearance of a gantry just before the slip road leading to the PIE towards Changi.

While the new gantry could help reduce the current bottleneck, I hope the one further up just before the Braddell exit will be deactivated, as those remaining on the CTE will now be hit twice by ERP charges.

If the intent was to capture those joining the CTE from the PIE, it would make more sense to place the gantry on the slip road. This way, everyone pays once — those joining the PIE, those entering the CTE from the PIE and those remaining on the CTE.

Iskandar Now Has More To Offer

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007

PUTRAJAYA — A detailed package of incentives has been offered to a wider range of investors in the Iskandar Development Region’s (IDR) first integrated city development, known as Node 1.


















Zone A - JB City Centre
Zone B - Nusajaya
Zone C - Western Gate Development
Zone D - Eastern Gate Development
Zone E - Senai - Skudai


Map Soure : http://www.idr.com.my

The follow-up to earlier incentives announced on March 22 has been extended to approved developers and development managers.

They were originally intended for Iskandar-status companies.

The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) yesterday announced the latest incentive and support package — introduced to kickstart early investment into the region. It includes tax exemptions on income from the sale of land and rental, as well as exemptions on withholding taxes.

Dispelling recent reports that the IDR was only keen on attracting foreign investment, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters after a briefing yesterday: “It is not true that we are not keen on local investors. The corridor is not only for foreign investors. We hope they (local investors) will participate in the development plan of the IDR.”

Mr Abdullah said local investors would also enjoy incentives like the 10-year income tax exemption for certain qualifying activities, if they met the set criteria.

“We are also willing to customise incentives packages for the investors and allow them free access to human capital,” he added.

Mr Abdullah said a total of RM40 billion ($17.3 billion) is needed over the next five years to fully develop the IDR. To date, the region has attracted RM4.1 billion worth of investments. The plans for Node 1 are going well and by early next year some projects could be implemented, he said. — AGENCIES


INVESTOR INCENTIVES
Under the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, approved developers will enjoy:

• Income tax exemption up to 2015 on income from disposal of any right in or over land within the approved node;
• Income tax exemption up to 2020 on income from rental or sale of buildings within the node; and
• Tax exemption on payments made to non-residents for services, interest and royalties up to Dec 31, 2015.

S’pore To Let Dollar Strengthen

Source : TODAY, Thursday, October 11, 2007

MAS moves to stem inflation as economy grows 9.4% in Q3


















Amid fears of rising inflation on the back of a booming economy and a robust economic outlook, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) tightened its monetary policy yesterday in a surprise move that marked the first shift in its stance in three-and-half years.

The move suggests that the MAS, which targets the exchange rate rather than interest rates to control inflation, will allow the Singapore dollar to appreciate faster.

A stronger Singapore dollar makes imported goods and raw materials cheaper, helping to control the rise in consumer prices.

News of the move came as the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) released advance estimates that the Singapore economy grew 9.4 per cent in the third quarter compared to the corresponding quarter a year earlier, and up from the 8.7-per-cent growth registered in the second quarter.

The robust expansion was underpinned by strong growth in the biomedical, manufacturing and transport engineering clusters.

MTI added that the economy, which has performed better than expected so far this year, "is well on track" to meet full-year forecasts, while MAS expects the economy to grow "at the upper end of the 7-to-8-per-cent forecast range this year". Next year, the economy is expected to expand "within its potential of 4 to 6 per cent".

The positive data helped push the Straits Times Index to a fresh intra-day high of 3,906 but profit-taking ate into the gains and it closed at 3,814.45. The Singapore dollar, meanwhile, shot to a 10-year high against the US dollar at $1.4631 yesterday.

Singapore is the first economy in the region to report third-quarter growth figures. Economists have been anxious for insights into how the US sub-prime-mortgage crisis and subsequent rout in global markets affected Asia's expansion during the three-month period.

Economists were all praise for the robust growth figures, but with inflation at a 12-year high, home prices at their highest in a decade and office rentals at record levels several voiced concern that the economy is showing signs of overheating. This even though Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday: "I don't think the economy as a whole is overheating.. inflation is well under control."

Going forward, the MAS said "the economy is expected to moderate to a more sustainable pace" but it added "inflationary pressures stemming from external sources, as well as domestic conditions including a tight labour market and rising rental costs, will persist."

It noted that inflation, measured by the consumer price index (CPI), was within expectations at 0.8 per cent in the first six months, compared to 1 per cent last year.

But against the backdrop of buoyant domestic economic conditions and a rise in global food and energy prices the CPI is expected to rise to between 1.5 and 2 per cent this year. And for the first half of next year, the CPI is expected to rise to about 3.5 per cent, before easing to between 2 and 3 per cent for 2008 as a whole.

Regional economist Song Seng Wun at CIMB-GK Securities, however, said in a radio interview that while some sectors, especially property, were "warming up very nicely", he added: "I don't think (the) economy at this point is showing signs of overheating."

Dr Chua Hak Bin, Citigroup's director of Asia Pacific Economics and Market Analysis, however had a slightly different view of things.

He said: "Expect a policy of seeking a stronger currency to curb inflation. The previous gradual appreciation path was too slow. Even with the recent tightening, it may not be fast enough because inflation risks will be quite high".

He reckoned that "the MAS may increase its appreciation bias even more" with "inflation possibly reaching an historical high", coupled with a "severe risk of overheating".

"High rapid immigration flows, surging property prices — the supply side simply can't take it. People are coming in and there aren't enough hotel rooms. Workers are coming in and there aren't enough places for them to stay. I expect more moderate growth rates next year," Dr Chua said.

Singapore Tightens Monetary Policy As Economy Grows At 6.4 Percent Rate In 3rd Quarter

Source : AsiaOne News, Oct 10, 2007

Singapore said its economy grew higher-than-expected 6.4 percent annual pace in the third quarter and tightened its monetary policy a notch on Wednesday in response to rising inflationary pressure.

Manufacturing fueled growth in the June-September quarter, the trade ministry said.

Growth was slower pace than in the second quarter, when gross domestic product expanded at a 14.4 percent pace, but it beat analysts' projections for 5.6 percent annualized growth. Compared with a year earlier, the economy grew 9.4 percent.

The trade ministry said the economy is "well on track" to meet the government's 7-8 percent growth forecast in 2007.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, meanwhile, made its first change in the central bank's stance in over three years. It said it would slightly increase the slope of its undisclosed trade-weighted currency band but it won't change the width or centering of the policy target.

"In our assessment, this policy stance will remain supportive of economic growth while capping inflationary pressures and ensuring price stability over the medium term," the central bank said in a statement.

The news prompted the Singapore dollar to jump to a 10-year high as investors speculated the authorities are now willing to let the currency rise at a faster pace to temper increases in consumer prices.

The U.S. dollar fell to S$1.4631 from S$1.4720 just before the announcement, before rebounding to just above S$1.4650 amid unconfirmed rumors that the MAS had entered the market to smooth the sharp movements.

Wednesday's change suggests that Singapore policy makers are serious about getting inflation under control, even at the expense of slower growth. The MAS's more hawkish stance led some analysts to predict the central bank might tighten policy again as soon as its next meeting in April.

The MAS said inflation will average between 2 percent-3 percent in 2008 after coming in at 1.5 percent-2 percent in 2007, warning also that prices for food, oil and other commodities are expected to pick up, while escalating property prices will also begin to feed into consumer inflation.

In a breakdown of growth in various sectors of the economy, the trade ministry said manufacturing expanded 12.3 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier after growing 8.3 percent in the second quarter.

The services sector grew 8.1 percent from a year earlier and the sizzling property market continued to support construction, which jumped 15.5 percent.

赶在分层地契法生效前 乌节地带两公寓集体出售

《联合早报》Oct 11, 2007

赶在分层地契法生效前筹足签名,位于乌节路附近的两个项目良园(Westwood Apartments)和惠景大厦(Welkin Mansion),昨天推出市场公开招标集体出售。

位于康健医药专科中心后边,靠近瑞吉居的良园(Westwood Apartments)

  位于康健医药专科中心(Camden Medical Centre)后边,靠近瑞吉居(St Regis Residences)的良园,预示价为4亿8800万元,相等于容积率每平方英尺2800元。占地6万2179平方英尺的这个地段,容积率为2.8,可兴建20层楼高,拥有约69个面积为2500平方英尺的高档公寓单位。

  距离索美塞地铁站不远的惠景大厦,位于里巴巴利弄,占地2万6000平方英尺,容积率为2.8,可兴建高达36层楼,拥有约48个面积为1500平方英尺的高档公寓单位。

由于第9邮区少有高楼住宅,而在这个地段上兴建的公寓高楼单位将能鸟瞰圣淘沙、两个综合度假胜地、我国南部岛屿以及印尼群岛,预计这个地段将能吸引到每平方英尺1800元的售价。

  负责代理这两个地段的为第一太平戴维斯(Savills)。良园将在11月21日截止招标,惠景大厦的招标则将在11月9日结束。

到处都跳跃着“鱼”-盛港“The Coris”组屋 获建屋局常年设计奖

《联合早报》Oct 10, 2007

以珊瑚礁鱼为组屋设计主轴,为组屋区树立鲜明形象,盛港的“The Coris”组屋获得建屋发展局的常年设计奖。

“The Coris”组屋设计时髦,线条流畅,使新一代组屋和私人公寓的距离拉近了。(盛邦国际提供照片)

  无论是电梯等候处还是公园里的雕塑,这个组屋区处处都跳跃着流畅的鱼形设计。组屋楼下的步行道及跑道交错而行,形成一条鱼的形状,巧妙地将健身角落、乐龄人士休闲中心及儿童游乐场等休闲设施连接在一起。贝壳形设计的公园亭子,更把海洋生态主题发挥得淋漓尽致。

  “The Coris”由14座17层楼高的组屋组成,共有882个四房式单位。这个由榜鹅路、康埔桦连路和康埔桦虹路环绕的预购项目是在2003年推出,由于毗邻万国地铁站,推出时反应热烈,申请人数比组屋的供应量超出近两倍。工程在去年底完工,居民都已入住。

  盛邦国际咨询公司高级建筑师黄念慈受访时说,组屋以一种珊瑚礁鱼命名,于是四周都采用波浪图案,营造海边住屋的感觉。他说,有些居民还在网上论坛自称为“corisian”,显示他们喜欢组屋的独特设计,对居住环境有强烈的归属感。

另一名建筑师陈子平说,作为优质组屋,所有单位的客厅都有落地玻璃窗,屋内屋外都采用高质量的建筑材料,水准可媲美私人公寓。

  除了盛港组屋外,马林台第1至8座组屋和锦茂花园第7、8、13至19及21座组屋的主要翻新计划,也是另外两个得奖项目。盛邦国际也是这两个项目的设计者。

  盛邦国际的建筑设计总监刘子奕说,马林台及锦茂花园属于已发展组屋区,建筑师必须在有限空间发挥创意,所面对的挑战和在盛港兴建新组屋完全不同。他说,两项翻新计划主要是建造新的公共设施,让整个居住环境更美仑美奂,为组屋区注入新活力。

  建屋局也颁发品质奖及工程安全奖给七家承包商和建筑设计公司,以表扬它们的优质服务及卓越设计。国家发展部长马宝山是颁奖仪式的贵宾。

颁奖礼后,建屋局也举行公共住屋研讨会,邀请建设局及建屋局代表分享“可持续建筑”方式。西北区市长张俰宾博士也和与会者分享市镇理事会如何在产业管理方面节省开支。

  建屋局数据显示,今年3月在榜鹅新镇推出供预购的首批绿色组屋Treetops@Punggol获得热烈反应,目前已有八成组屋被预购。它是建屋局推出的首个具环保概念的“生态邻里”,集合节省能源、环保及绿化元素。

Ultra-Posh Sentosa Cove Villas To Be Launched Early Next Year

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

Sandy Island homes will boast celebrity designers and many exclusive features

A LITTLE-KNOWN Malaysian businessman has pledged to take luxury living in Sentosa Cove to new heights with a collection of plush villas on Sandy Island.












NO EXPENSE SPARED: To draw in the cream of the crop, Dr Wong (above) has roped in Armani store designer Claudio Silverstrin as lead architect for the Sandy Island villa project. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN












Dr Derek Wong is building 18 homes aimed at 'ultra-high' net worth buyers, including foreign celebrities. The homes will range in size from about 6,500 sq ft to 12,000 sq ft, with prices likely to start at around $12 million.

'It will be an island oasis with a tropical setting,' said Dr Wong, the managing director of Genesis-Alliance, which won a tender to acquire Sandy Island in March for $89.7 million.

Genesis-Alliance is a joint venture between Malaysian conglomerate YTL Corp and LP Worlds, of which Dr Wong is the major shareholder.

Dr Wong's residential projects in Malaysia are mainly mass-market ones developed by his firm LP Worlds.

He also owns the master dealership for audio firm Bang & Olufsen in Malaysia and is developing the US$100 million (S$147.5 million) condo The Palazzio in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian developer Sunway City.

Dr Wong, who owns homes in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, clearly knows something about style.

The dapper 53-year-old, who has a PhD in business science, has designed some of his own shoes and clothes. He also holds a franchise for the Armani/Casa store at the Raffles Hotel arcade.

It is the first outlet in South-east Asia to sell furniture and home accessories designed by fashion designer Giorgio Armani.

For Sandy Island, Dr Wong has roped in Italian consultant Claudio Silverstrin as lead architect while the landscaping will be done by Australian Jamie Durie, who appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Mr Silverstrin is the designer of Giorgio Armani stores around the world and his name would immediately ring a bell with Armani connoisseurs. As the villa project's marketing manager, Mr Richard Leen, pointed out: 'Our villas are aimed at those who have heard of Silverstrin.'

Each villa will be designed to offer plenty of privacy, with mature trees to be transplanted from other parts of Sentosa, and other vegetation lining the entrances and sides of the homes.

Each one will also have a berth for a boat and a pool. The bathrooms and kitchens will be custom-designed by Mr Silverstrin.

There will be a guard post at the Sandy Island entrance in the gated Sentosa Cove.

Unlike traditional homes, the Sandy Island villas, which will be launched early next year, will have a lean main door that opens out to the canal. And residents will be able to drive straight into the basement carpark - a rare feature for bungalows.

'Nobody has gone through this trouble for a project,' said Dr Wong.

He noted the timeliness of the project as Singapore's upcoming integrated resorts have made the country more attractive to foreigners.

YTL and LP Worlds were in partnership to develop Lakefront Collection in Sentosa Cove. Acquired last September, this plot now comes under Genesis-Alliance and will be launched later next year.

High Court Allows Horizon Towers' Owners Appeal Against Strata Title Board

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

This means STB which dismissed their collective sale application will now have to go through the hearing.











THE High Court on Thursday allowed the appeal filed by majority owners of Horizon Towers against the dismissal of the estate's collective sale application by the Strata Titles Board (STB) over a paperwork glitch.

This puts the long-running and closely-watched saga back on square one, which means the STB will now have to hear objections from the minority owners who are against the en-bloc sale. The Board will then rule on whether the collective sale should proceed.

High Court Judge Choo Han Teck, in allowing the majority owners' appeal on Thursday morning, said the technical error which aborted the collective sale of their Leonie Hill estate did not prejudice the minority owners, who wanted the STB decision upheld.

"It was the kind of error that could have been corrected in a moment, without inconvenience or prejudice," said Justice Choo.

STB dismissed Horizon Towers' collective sale application in August over a technicality: Pages bearing three consenting owners' signatures were missing from the submitted application.

The majority owners appealed to the High Court to overturn the STB dismissal, arguing that the STB knew those three owners signed the sale deal, and that the Board had the power to amend the application to include the missing pages.

They also maintained that even without those three signatures, the rest of the owners who had consented to the sale still held 82.51 per cent of share values - comfortably above the 80 per cent minimum requirement.

Justice Choo on Thursday concurred that the 80 per cent requirement would have been satisfied the sale application for the 210-unit condo.

As a result of the STB dismissal of the en-bloc sale application, the owners failed to meet the deadline of the collective sale to the prospective buyers of Horizon Towers, a consortium led by Hotel Properties, which have sued the majority owners

OCBC Explains Why A Visit To The Branch Is Needed To Reactivate Dormant Accounts

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

WE REFER to the letter, 'Savings account inactive for two years, so bank 'freezes' it' by Ms Lim Nee Eng (Online forum, Oct 5).

We thank Ms Lim for her feedback and would like to clarify that as part of the bank's precautionary process to protect customers' accounts which have been inactive, we require customers to personally visit any of our branches to reactivate their accounts. This is to ensure that these accounts are not activated by unauthorised parties.

We seek Ms Lim's understanding on this matter and thank her again for taking time to provide us with her feedback.

Ng Kwok Leong
Head, Planning & Customer Assurance
OCBC Bank

GST On Management, Sinking Funds Inequitable

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

AFTER reading the letter, 'Why GST on condo sinking fund?' (ST, Oct 8), I found this on the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore website FAQs:

Q:Should GST be chargeable on condominium sinking fund at the point of collection?

A:Although the sinking fund is utilised at a later time for repairs and upgrading works, the time of supply for GST purposes is triggered when the money is collected. Hence, if the management corporation is registered for GST, it has to collect GST ... at the point of collection.

I disagree that 'the time of supply for GST purposes is triggered when the money is collected' because the sinking fund is a reserve fund, which is not necessarily 'utilised at a later time for repairs and upgrading works'.

For example, in the collective sale of my condominium the unutilised sinking fund amounting to over half a million dollars is being refunded by the purchaser. It has not been utilised in any way and GST paid on contributions should be refunded.

With the rise in the GST rate and collective sales, this question is of wide public interest and I hope the authorities will provide a clear answer.

Kenneth Tan Boon Beng

I, TOO, grappled with the rationale behind the paying of GST on the sinking fund. In addition, I question why GST is chargeable on payments to the management fund.

The management fund is collected from subsidiary proprietors to pay the estate manager, auditors and contractors and GST is payable on such fees. The sinking fund is reserved for future major expenses. In the event that money from the fund is used, GST is payable for the services.

Subsidiary proprietors thus end up paying GST twice: once when the monies are collected by the condo management and a second time when payment is made to service providers.

In the case of the sinking fund, charging GST has this unjust consequence: subsidiary proprietors lose 7 per cent of their money to GST even before they begin to earn interest on amounts kept in time deposits.

Thong Low Meng

Multi-Agency Effort To Enforce Proper Use Of Outdoor Display Areas

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

THE HDB, Singapore Civil Defence Force, National Environment Agency and Town Councils will step up enforcement to ensure the appropriate use of outdoor display area (ODA) by HDB shop retailers.
They have drawn up a set of guidelines on the use of ODA, a joint release by the agencies said on Thursday.

The guidelines state that retailers have to maintain a minimum 1.5m-wide clear passageway from the front of the shop to the ODA, and a minimum 1m-wide open path between goods.

The guidelines also state that row of goods should not exceed 3m in length, and they should not be placed within 3m of exit staircases to allow sufficient passageway for the residents so that fire escape routes are not obstructed.

Goods, shelves and racks should be kept in the shop after operating hours, and goods should not cover the drains at the shop front so that they can be cleaned.

Enclosure of the ODA, including drop-down screens/blinds, is not allowed. Retailers are not allowed to sublet the ODA to third parties and they are not allowed to extend the ODA during festive periods.

The Town Councils will conduct regular checks to ensure that retailers follow the guidelines. The HDB, SCDF and NEA will also conduct joint inspections to complement the checks by Town Councils.

Related Link - http://tinyurl.com/2clkdd
Multi-Agency Effort To Enforce Proper Use Of Outdoor Display Areas


Retailers who fail to comply with the guidelines may be fined up to $5,000 under the Town Councils Act.

The clampdown on ODA misuse came after some HDB shop retailers sublet the spaces illegally or displayed their wares beyond permitted limits.

'Such irresponsible acts pose a danger to residents as they block the access routes in times of fire or other emergencies. The placing of bulky items across covered drains may also obstruct their cleaning and lead to mosquito breeding,' the multi-agency statement said.

Following the recent shophouse fire at Hougang Ave 8 which led to the loss of two innocent lives, the HDB, Town Councils and SCDF have received complaints and feedback from HDB residents and members of the public concerning the obstruction of common property in HDB estates, the statement said.

MAS To Let S$ Strengthen Faster To Cool Rising Inflation

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

Local currency may hit $1.40 against the greenback by end of next year

INFLATION concerns have taken centre stage, after a surprise move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to curb rising pressure on consumer prices.



















GOING UP: Consumer prices have been rising strongly, driven by a robust domestic economy, increasing world oil and food prices, and a July hike in the goods and services tax. -- ST FILE PHOTO


Amid rosy economic news on the local economy. the central bank said yesterday it will allow the Singapore dollar to strengthen at a slightly faster pace, as inflation may rise faster than previously predicted.

This is the key tool the MAS uses to combat inflation, which can cause major headaches if it gets out of control.















Economists said the adjustment will help keep business costs competitive by softening price hikes of imported goods and services.

They added that local manufacturers should not lose out much in competitiveness, as Asian currencies are strengthening across the board.

But economists added that other measures may be needed to cool the local property and labour markets.

INFLATION concerns have taken centre stage, after a surprise move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to curb rising pressure on consumer prices.
Amid rosy economic news on the local economy. the central bank said yesterday it will allow the Singapore dollar to strengthen at a slightly faster pace, as inflation may rise faster than previously predicted.

This is the key tool the MAS uses to combat inflation, which can cause major headaches if it gets out of control.

Economists said the adjustment will help keep business costs competitive by softening price hikes of imported goods and services.

They added that local manufacturers should not lose out much in competitiveness, as Asian currencies are strengthening across the board.

But economists added that other measures may be needed to cool the local property and labour markets.

'I thought they would do it next year but clearly, inflation has breached the MAS' comfort zone,' said Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin.

The MAS statement, which coincided with advance data of the economy's third-quarter performance, sent the local currency to a new 10-year high against the greenback.

As government estimates of growth came in at 9.4 per cent, beating market forecasts, the Singdollar rose 0.5 per cent to $1.4649.

Currency experts, deciphering the MAS' brief comments on its policy tweak, said the local currency may hit $1.40 to the United States dollar by the end of next year.

Consumer prices have been rising strongly, driven by a robust domestic economy, increasing world oil and food prices, and a July hike in the goods and services tax (GST).

'Domestic price pressures are expected to persist due to heightened supply constraints,' said the MAS.

'Externally, oil, food and other commodity prices will remain firm into next year.'

The MAS now expects price levels to rise between 2 per cent and 3 per cent next year, up from a previous prediction that inflation would not exceed 2 per cent. Prices will rise faster in the first half - by 3.5 per cent - and should ease after that.

For this year, the MAS has bumped up its inflation forecast to between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent, up from between 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent.

With this in view, the MAS is increasing the slope of the Singdollar's trading band slightly, while keeping a policy to allow a modest and gradual rise of the trading limits.

The central bank said it is neither re-centring the trading band nor changing its width.

'This policy stance will remain supportive of economic growth, while capping inflationary pressures and ensuring price stability over the medium term,' said the MAS.

UBS currency strategist Nizam Idris noted that the slope change - the first announced by the MAS - was the most tempered adjustment of the three variables.

'It says that they are still uncertain about the short term and, therefore, don't want to have an immediate impact as a re-centring of the policy band would have.

'I think the market and the MAS have been surprised by how easy it's been for retailers to pass on the GST hike to consumers,' said Mr Nizam.

Analysts said further monetary tightening and non-monetary measures may be needed next year.

Citigroup's Dr Chua said non-monetary measures may be needed to cool the labour and property markets.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RISING PRICES

'Inflationary pressures have picked up amid buoyant domestic economic conditions and the recent rise in global oil and food prices.'

MAS, which will let the Singapore currency strengthen at a slightly faster pace in view of the rising pressure on consumer prices in the Republic

Economy Trumps Analysts' Forecasts With 9.4% Growth

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

Strong 3rd quarter for construction and manufacturing puts full-year target within reach

THE economy grew by a blistering 9.4 per cent in the third quarter, trumping analysts' forecasts and beating the bumper numbers racked up in the previous three months.

Construction and manufacturing drove the rapid expansion, which has left the country well-placed to hit its official 7 per cent to 8 per cent growth forecast for the year.

'The first three quarters this year saw an average 8.2 per cent growth. So the official forecast is very much in the bag,' said Standard Chartered Bank economist Alvin Liew.

The figures - advanced estimates based largely on July and August data - were released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry yesterday.

They were higher than economists' median forecasts of 9 per cent, and follow the 8.7 per cent expansion charted in the April to June period.

Construction and manufacturing grew by double-digits from a year ago, while growth in the services sector eased to 8.1 per cent from 8.4 per cent in the previous quarter. Financial services was again the star performer.

Deutsche Bank economists noted: 'We think that the construction sector will provide continued impetus to growth in 2007 and 2008, while weaker external sector outlook will pose some downside risk.'

Also yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) made a surprise move to allow the Singdollar to strengthen at a slightly faster pace.

The move, prompted by persistent inflationary pressure, took economists off guard.

They had expected no change to the exchange rate policy in the central bank's biannual policy review.

A stronger currency helps to curb inflation by making imports cheaper.

The MAS is sticking to its policy of a 'modest and gradual appreciation' of the Singdollar against a basket of currencies, but it will 'increase slightly' the slope of its policy band - meaning a faster rate of appreciation.

The steeper Singdollar band 'signals that inflation concerns now outweigh growth concerns', said StanChart's Mr Liew.

In its outlook for this year and 2008, the MAS noted that growth prospects in the United States have weakened.

'However, the global economy is expected to remain resilient, particularly in Asia, where domestic demand and regional trade should continue to be firm,' it said.

The MAS predicts that Singapore's economic growth will come within its potential of between 4 per cent and 6 per cent next year.

It projects that inflation will rise to about 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of next year, partly due to July's goods and services tax hike.

'In the second half, inflation should ease and come in at 2 to 3 per cent for 2008 as a whole,' it predicted.

The Government will release preliminary gross domestic product estimates for the third quarter based on more complete data next month.

MAS TO LET S$ STRENGTHEN FASTER TO COOL RISING INFLATION, MONEY

Multi-Agency Effort To Intensify Enforcement On Use Of Outdoor Display Areas

Source : Housing Development Board (HDB) Press Releases, Oct 11, 2007

Some HDB shop retailers have misused the outdoor display area (ODA) of their shop fronts by subletting the spaces illegally or displaying their wares beyond permitted limits. Such irresponsible acts pose a danger to residents as they block the access routes in times of fire or other emergencies. The placing of bulky items across covered drains may also obstruct their cleaning and lead to mosquito breeding.

2 Following the recent shophouse fire at Hougang Ave 8 which led to the loss of two innocent lives, HDB, Town Councils and SCDF have received complaints and feedback from HDB residents and members of the public concerning the obstruction of common property in HDB estates.

3 HDB, SCDF, NEA and Town Councils will intensify enforcement to ensure the appropriate use of ODA by HDB shop retailers.


ODA Guidelines

4 A set of ODA guidelines (see Annex A) has been drawn up to guide the use of ODA. Shop retailers are to confine the display of their wares within designated boxes drawn by the Town Councils. This is to ensure that there is sufficient passageway for the residents so that fire escape routes are not obstructed, and that drains in front of the shops can be cleaned. Retailers are also required to keep their wares inside the shops after their operating hours. They are not allowed to sublet the ODA to third parties. Please see the photographs in Annex B for a pictorial representation of the guidelines.


Intensified Enforcement Action

5 The Town Councils will conduct regular checks to ensure that the ODA guidelines are followed strictly. Joint inspections with the HDB, SCDF and NEA will also be mounted to complement the checks by Town Councils. Retailers are strongly advised to cooperate with the Town Councils and comply with the ODA guidelines. Retailers who do not cooperate and persist in violating these guidelines will be dealt with severely. Failure to comply with the guidelines may result in fines up to $5,000 under the Town Councils Act.

ANNEX A

Guidelines on Shop Front Display
- Minimum 1.5m-wide clear corridor passageway to be maintained from the front of the shop to ODA
- Minimum 1m-wide open path to be maintained between goods
- Row of goods should not exceed 3m in length
- Goods should not be placed within 3m of exit staircases.
- Goods, shelves or racks should not be left overnight outside the shop
- No enclosure is allowed (including drop-down screens/blinds)
- No subletting of ODA
- Goods should not cover the drains at shop front
- No extension of ODA during festive period


Annex B



主妇移居美十多年 回来两房产已转名转售 争房产案曲折离奇

《联合早报》Oct 10, 2007

一名妇女,十多年前一家四口移居美国,不料她在最近回来新加坡,却发现他们拥有的两个房地产已分别转至大伯和家婆的名下,转名给大伯的房地产更被出售了。


















-The Straits Times 提供照片

这名妇女陈翠玉(52岁,主妇)与丈夫吕济瑜和两名儿子在美国定居多年。她的丈夫在2005年逝世,她在今年初回来新加坡办理亡夫在本地的遗产时,“赫然”发现分别在亡夫和她名下的房地产,已分别归属于大伯和家婆。

原来,在她的亡夫于美国出事昏迷期间,大伯入禀法庭索取她亡夫名下独立式洋房,声称她的亡夫只是洋房的信托人。过后,她的家婆也以她只是信托人为由,要法庭判她交出另一项房地产。

陈翠玉在1980年从台湾嫁来新加坡,后来在1994年移居美国。2004年9月,她的丈夫吕济瑜在当地疑谋杀17岁养子吕炳勋(译音),过后在狱中自杀而不省人事,成了植物人。

与此同时,吕济瑜的哥哥吕济锡(商人)入禀我国高庭,要弟弟交出名下位于蒙巴登马格德路7号的一栋独立式洋房。吕济锡提出诉讼一个月后,吕济瑜不治身亡,年51岁。















-The New Paper 提供照片

该起官司的答辩人如今已换为吕济瑜遗产的执行人,即陈翠玉。这起案件尚未了结,陈翠玉又面对家婆陈田治(77岁)起诉她的另一起索讨房地产官司。该房地产坐落于西拉雅巷7号

















这两起诉讼在正式开审前,已出现不少曲折的发展。

首先,吕济锡和陈田治分别在去年3月和今年1月,在陈翠玉缺席的情况下,获得高庭裁定他们胜诉。

在追讨马格德路洋房案中,吕济锡声称他在1978年购买该洋房时,正经历一场艰难的离婚诉讼。为了“方便”,他以弟弟的名义购买上述房地产。

此外,他以自己在家族公司工作多年,可在不用贷款的情况下支付洋房19万5000元售价。反之,弟弟当年才刚服完兵役,丝毫没经济能力,而且也完全没有参与购买商议。

不仅如此,他也持有洋房的地契,维修等工作也是由他负责进行。

吕济锡认为“弟弟是他的手足,也是生意伙伴,他对弟弟有信心,并信任他这个信托人”,所以这些年来都没要求弟弟交出洋房。

大伯以480万已把洋房出售。
在入禀高庭后,吕济锡依程序要把传票传递给弟妇,即答辩人陈翠玉,通知她有关此诉讼,但传票传递无法送到她的手里。

过后,吕济锡在旧金山最大的英文报章刊登诉讼启事,但弟妇还是没出现抗辩。在提呈抗辩截止后,吕济锡要求法庭在答辩人缺席下裁定他胜诉。高庭作出有利他的裁决,以及下令答辩人支付讼费。

在胜诉约半年后,吕济锡以480万元出售该洋房。据知,洋房已被拆除,新主人计划在原地建筑一个两层楼高的洋房。

陈田治也以类似的理由,获得胜诉。

然而,事情并没就此终止。

陈翠玉今年1月发现上述洋房不但已转到吕济锡名下,而且已转手给第三者。她以吕济锡当初的诉讼申请不合程序为由,要求高庭作废该项裁决,申请获准。

至于抗辩追讨洋房的理由,陈翠玉称洋房在过去25年里都在吕济瑜的名下,没明文记录后者是信托人。而且,从他们1980年结婚至1993年,该洋房都是他们的婚姻住所。

她反指,吕济锡不过比她的亡夫年长五岁,而且挥霍无度,所以该洋房不会是由吕济锡支付的。

另外,陈翠玉也反诉吕济锡,要求对方交还洋房的480万元收益。

不仅如此,她也要求吕济锡在官司未有结果前,把收益交给高庭保管。若吕济锡无法交出这笔收益,就冻结他价值480万元的全球资产。同样的,这项申请也获准。

另一方面,陈翠玉也成功废掉高庭早前给予家婆陈田治有利的裁决。

陈翠玉也声称,她在1987年以55万元购买西拉雅巷的房地产,资金来自她的父亲、储蓄和抵押贷款。

这两起诉讼预料在明年初开审,陈翠玉由黄瑞朝律师楼的陈春木發律师代表,吕济锡的律师则来自瑞德律师事务所。(部分人名译音)

起诉人丈夫在美疑刺死养子后自杀  
吕济瑜是疑刺死养子后自杀,但不遂。他在被扣留期间再度寻死,结果脑死,成了植物人。

吕济瑜与妻子陈翠玉结婚七年,没有生育。这对夫妻于是领养了一个儿子,取名“炳勋”,并在六年后终于有了自己的儿子炳浩。

炳浩出世隔年,一家四口移居美国旧金山。岂料,十年后,这个家庭发生吕济瑜涉嫌捅死17岁养子和轻生的悲剧。吕济瑜被发现得早,保住性命。

可是,在他等候谋杀养子案件审理期间,在监狱里把塑料袋结成绳子上吊,结果脑死,必须靠仪器维持生命。他最终因肺部衰竭而逝世。

美国查案人员相信,吕济瑜以为他患有重病,担心养子没有他照顾而无法生活,才狠心谋杀养子。

据陈翠玉在法庭文件里说,自这起事件发生后,她与婆家的关系闹僵了,没有来往,也没有联络。

中峇鲁百余租赁单位组屋 吸引十五份献议竞标书

《联合早报》Oct 10, 2007

中峇鲁一批获选进行选择性重建计划的120个单位租赁组屋,吸引了15份献议竞标代理出租,其中最高标价达
每月23万多元。

建屋发展局在今年8月,推出位于中峇鲁路第1、3、5、7、9座组屋的120个空置单位供短期出租,并公开招标委派代理负责出租这些组屋。它们是首批在1995年获选进行选择性重建计划(Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme,简称SERS)的组屋,受影响的三房式和四房式组屋居民已在数年前搬走。这些组屋原本应被拆除重建,但目前还空置着。"

招标昨天截止,其中出价最高的是Katong Hostel公司。这家成立了4年的公司以每月23万多元的献议租价居首,若根据120个空置租赁单位计算,每个单位的平均租金约1900元。紧跟在后的是Ideal System Accomodations,出价每月18万8000元,E M Services以16万8360元排第三。

预料建屋局将在不久公布最后的竞标结果。这项试验计划是要为当前旺热的组屋出租市场提供支撑力量,也有助于缓解供求紧张的情况。建屋局在8月推出这试验性计划时指出,若租屋需求继续保持强劲,它在未来3年可推出分布在全岛多个地点的4000个到5000个组屋单位供出租,进一步增加市场供应。

建屋局将在检讨公众对这试验性计划的反应后,才决定是否在日后将它扩展到其他搬空但还未重建的选择性重建计划组屋。

新加坡直落亚逸13战前店屋集体求售 要价6700万元

《联合早报》Oct 11, 2007

直落亚逸街(Telok Ayer Street)受保留区的13间战前店屋集体求售,要价6700万元,相等于每平方英尺1200元。

位于直落亚逸街和文达街交界处的13间店屋,为直落亚逸街101至115号的单数单位,以及文达街7至17号的单数单位,占地1万6987平方英尺,总建筑楼面(GFA)约5万6000平方英尺,属于999年地契。

所有13间店屋属于一人,目前地面层的租户主要为咖啡店和酒吧等餐饮业者,第二和三层楼则为办公楼。根据2003年的发展总蓝图,这个地段被划为商业用途,位于新的克罗士街(Cross Street)地铁站毗邻,发展商无需缴付发展费。

销售代理高力国际(Colliers International)的投资销售部主管何永裕说:“办公楼供应吃紧,以致租金飙升,推使越来越多租户寻找其他的商业资产设办公楼,比如店屋等。此外,越来越多的投资者也对地理位置优越的店屋感兴趣。”

由于店屋的租金一般为优质办公楼的一半,处于市区内或边缘的店屋,在需求激增下,价格过去一年多来迅速飙升。比如同样位于直落亚逸街的一排8间店屋,于2005年11月以1860万元售出,但在今年3月以3500万元转手,翻了一倍。

为吸引金融、创意关联和专业机构租用,何永裕建议,买家可考虑重新翻新这些店屋,打造无支柱楼面(floor plate)的内部,以提升现有空间的使用率。

高力国际邀请有兴趣的买家在11月13日之前以书面表态。

Singapore's Central Bank Takes Tighter Monetary Stance

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is taking a tighter monetary stance.

In its half-yearly review on Wednesday, the central bank says it will allow the Singapore dollar to appreciate faster against its basket of currencies.

Overall though, it is keeping to its policy of a modest and gradual appreciation of the local currency.

It cited inflation as a key reason for the tightening move which caught the markets by surprise.

But according to the MAS, strong economic growth has brought along with it increasing inflationary pressures.

It is now expecting the consumer price index inflation for 2007 to come in at 1.5 to 2 per cent.

This is up from the previous estimate of 0.5 to 1.5 per cent.

Song Seng Wun, Regional Economist, CIMB-GK Research, says: "Probably because they didn't take into account the higher food inflation that we're currently experiencing in Singapore. Actually it's not just in Singapore but around the region as well. But because a chunk of consumer price basket is imported food - things like Australian pork - and the Australian dollar has been doing quite well of late."

The slight tightening bias is aimed at keeping prices stable.

Analysts say the move suggests that the MAS is serious about keeping inflation under control.

They are expecting the Singapore dollar to see more upside, rising to as high as S$1.43 against the greenback by end of next year.

Jimmy Koh, Vice-President - Global Markets and Investment Management, UOB Group, says: "Will that cream off Singapore's export competitiveness, I don't think so. The currency appreciation is an affirmation of the health of the Singapore economy which is looking positive. Studies show that your global demand is three times more important than currency adjustment. So as long as global environment remains favourable, the currency appreciation is not going to cream off Singapore's competitiveness much."

UOB says a stronger currency may lead to even more capital inflows as investors will enjoy not only rising asset prices, but a stronger currency.

Mr Koh says: "Now what you have is another leg to compensate or reward investors which is currency rate. So if you have asset prices rising and yet currency appreciating, I think you're gonna see more money coming into Singapore."

The MAS manages monetary policy through a band, against a trade-weighted basket of currencies.

The last time it made changes to its monetary policy was in 2004. - CNA/ch

Economists Review Forecasts After Singapore's Q3 GDP Jjumps 9.4%

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

Private sector economists are relooking their forecasts for the Singapore economy after advance estimates out on Wednesday showed third quarter GDP jumping by 9.4 percent compared to a year ago.

The report by the Trade Ministry says growth was led by the construction and manufacturing sectors.

The construction sector is building a strong case for arguing that Singapore's growth could exceed the 7.9 per cent expansion last year.

The sector grew by a strong 15.5 percent in the third quarter, down from the 18.8 percent in the previous three months.

But economists say it continues to be a pillar of growth.

Meanwhile manufacturing grew a strong 12.3 percent.

Selena Ling, Treasury Economist, OCBC Bank, says: "We do think that the lagging electronics sector is showing signs of a pickup going into traditional Christmas peak season. Construction side, actually, there are some signs of a peak in growth because we have seen a moderation in growth rate in the sector.

"Although it's still double digit, and growing strong, maybe with all the guidelines as well as the higher development charges, we may see a slight moderation in construction activity going forward."

Economists say it is unlikely a slowing US economy, due its housing credit crisis, will have significant drag on Singapore.

David Cohen, Economist, Action Economics, says: "The impact seems concentrated on the housing sector which has little impact on global demand. It's mostly domestic concentrated. At the same time, trade data from across Asia in August, September shows little evidence of slowing. Total global demand is still healthy, powered by the strong growth in China and in India, in particular."

With this latest estimate, economists are now even more confident that Singapore's growth will meet the Trade and Industry Ministry's full-year forecast of 7 to 8 per cent.

In fact, most are putting their bets for the figure to exceed 8 percent, topping last year's 7.9 percent full year growth. - CNA/ch

Rise In Office Rentals Lifts K-REIT's Q3 Distributable Income By 31%

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

The surge in office rentals has lifted the third quarter distributable income of K-REIT Asia by 31 percent from a year ago.

The commercial property trust has booked an income of S$5.4 million for the three months to September.

This will work out to a distribution per unit of 2.23 cents for the period.

Property income rose 18 percent to over S$10 million.

As for its outlook, K-REIT says it expects demand for prime office space to remain strong.

This is because of the continued economic growth, sound business prospects and further expansion of the financial services sector.

K-REIT projects prime office rents to increase further over the next two to three years.

It adds that the buoyant prime office market will continue to augur well for its portfolio of office buildings in the CBD and the new downtown at Marina Bay. - CNA/ch

Upper Pickering Street Hotel Site Draws Top Bid Of S$253.2m

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

Hotel Plaza has put in the top bid of S$253.2 million for a hotel site at Upper Pickering Street.

All in, the tender exercise by the Urban Redevelopment Authority attracted nine bids.

According to CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), the top bid works out to S$805 per square foot per plot ratio.

It is also at least 40 percent higher than the prices paid for two other hotel sites along Tanjong Pagar Road that were awarded recently.

The 99-year leasehold site has a maximum gross floor area of 315,000 square feet.

CBRE believes the site can support a hotel that caters to business travellers. - CNA/so

HDB Launches 489 Flats In North And West Zones

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is launching the sale of 489 flats in the North and West zones.

Units up for offer include 129 four-room flats, 138 five-room flats and 222 executive flats. They are located in eight towns - Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Jurong West, Sembawang, Woodlands, and Yishun.

Interested flat buyers can submit their applications online at www.hdb.gov.sg from Wednesday until October 16.

Those without internet access can also visit the HDB Hub or any of HDB's branch offices to submit their applications.

A computer ballot will be conducted and applicants will then be notified of their appointments to book a flat.

The selection exercise will start on October 23. - CNA/ac

Stamp Duty: ‘Objective’ Market Value Used

Source : The Straits Times, Thursday, October 11, 2007

I REFER to the letter by Mr Yeoh Lian Chuan, ‘Iras has no general power to insist on ‘market value'’ (ST, Oct 9).

Under the law, where the Commissioner of Stamp Duty is of the opinion that the consideration is inadequate, the proper market value of a property may be substituted for stamp-duty purposes.

Whether the consideration is inadequate is determined on an objective basis, on the face of the transaction. A taxpayer who does not agree with the stamp duty assessed can lodge an objection to the commissioner and appeal to the High Court if he is dissatisfied with the outcome.

The commissioner exercises this power judiciously and only when the consideration declared is clearly inadequate.

We thank Mr Yeoh for his views.

Chin Li Fen (Ms)
Assistant Commissioner
(Corporate Services Division)
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Farmers Send Petition To Protest At Storing Granite In Lim Chu Kang

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 October 2007

Farmers in the Lim Chu Kang area have sent a petition – with 1,000 signatures – to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, calling for an end to storing granite in their backyard.

Granite stockpile site at Lim Chu Kang

The government has explained that storing granite is part of its strategy to ensure that there is an adequate supply of essential building materials to tide the construction industry over in the short term, following Indonesia's ban on granite exports to Singapore.

The granite stockpile, which nearly covers an area of 20 football fields, is located in the Kranji countryside where a variety of fruits and vegetables is produced.

Related Video Link (CNA) - http://tinyurl.com/36yokr
Farmers send petition to protest at storing granite in Lim Chu Kang


Related Video Link (The Straits Times)- http://tinyurl.com/26gj6w
Please dump your granite elsewhere, plead farmers


A group of farmers delivered a petition, together with some 'fruit for thought', to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office at the Istana today, to protest the use of arable land as Singapore's granite stockpile site.

Jermyn Chow visits Singapore farming community located off Neo Tiew Road, in Kranji.


The 20 farmers who form the Kranji Countryside Association are worried that their crops may be affected, despite efforts by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to reduce dust by erecting a 6-metre high fence around the granite stockpile.

That is why they decided to send their produce, along with the petition, to the prime minister at the Istana, hoping that he could help reverse the decision to store granite in their backyard.

Kenny Eng, Vice-President of Kranji Countryside Association, said: "When we started the petition, we just wanted to see for ourselves whether Singaporeans and tourists felt the same way. Within a short two-and-a-half weeks, we hit 1,000 signatures. It shows that Singaporeans are really concerned."

One of the Singaporeans said: "This is probably the only place (countryside) left in Singapore. So I think the granite should not be placed here."

A tourist said: "The dust and the debris from the concrete, etc could have an effect on the plants."

"It's a great shame; they are trying to get children interested in the environment by teaching them about vegetables. A lot of children should see the sort of landscape that was Singapore before so many buildings went up," another said.

Farmers at Kranji are also worried that the fence around the granite stockpile may prevent sunlight from reaching the farms. They agreed that granite stockpiling is necessary, but they do not want it in their backyard.

But the BCA, which has consulted the farmers, explained that it had already studied possible sites for stockpiling and Lim Chu Kang was selected because it is away from densely built-up urban areas.

BCA also added that due care would be taken to mitigate any negative impact on the environment, which includes having a designated route for trucks, and adequate drainage to discharge rainwater. - CNA/so


SLA Launches 4 Agricultural Sites At Sg Tengah

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 11, 2007

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is tendering out four 20-year lease sites at Sungei Tengah for various agricultural use.

It said in a news release on Thursday that the total land area of 96,031 sqm can be developed to include some commercial uses, besides traditional farming like vegetable, ornamental plant and fish production.

The SLA said sites for food and beverage or retail can have a maximum quantum of 200 sqm while those for guest accomodation or spa facilities a maximum of 300 sqm.

It said there has been strong interest made by existing lessees and new investors to SLA, indicating their desire to expand their existing operations or to develop new farms at Sungei Tengah.

'In addition, there is some demand for complementary commercial use and facilities, whilst maintaining the rustic charm of Sungei Tengah'

SLA's Deputy Director of Land Sales, Mr Teo Jing Kok, said: 'The feedback from farmers and our research shows that the sale of agricultural sites with a small infusion of commercial use is indeed also the best business model for farmers to pursue their agriculture business.'

'The injection of some commercial use would allow the farmers to diversify their operation and have an additional source of revenue for the farmers.'

He said: 'Such recreational and educational opportunity encourages farmers to be more attuned to changing social and economic trends, and incentivise them to look out for entrepreneurial opportunities.'

He added that 'the end result is that Singapore becomes a more exciting and interesting place to live in or visit.'

The tender for sites will close on Nov 15.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA)Press Release, 11 October 2007

SLA launches four agricultural sites at Sungei Tengah

1 Many uninitiated and busy Singaporeans will simply drive pass the Sungei Tengah Exit along the KJE without a second thought of what lies beyond this gateway. However, to a growing number of people in Singapore, Sungei Tengah is a haven of interesting blend of farms and recreational activities. For example, there is a growing contingent of urbanites from nearby housing estates planning their next late night cycling foray into Sungei Tengah to explore the traffic-free laneways with their gleaming mountain bicycles. To some families, Sungei Tengah represents the chance to get the freshest home-grown vegetables, harvested right from the farm no more than a few minutes ago. To others, Farmart and Qian Hu are popular choices for family trips – for parents, it is a nostalgic throwback to rural life in the Kampong while it is a welcome change for their children to explore and revel in the quaint and quiet countryside. Some even go to Sungei Tengah to have their precious lunchtime liaisons with their pets – e.g., to see, talk to and feed their precious Koi fishes in the Nikko Koi Farm (Hotel).

Related Link - http://tinyurl.com/23rye2
Annex A: Details of site

Annex B: Location map
















2 There has been strong interest made by existing lessees and new investors to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), indicating their desire to expand their existing operations or to develop new farms at Sungei Tengah. In addition, there is some demand for complementary commercial use and facilities, whilst maintaining the rustic charm of Sungei Tengah. In line with SLA’s objective to optimise the use of land, SLA is tendering out four 20-year lease sites at Sungei Tengah for various agricultural use.

3 Besides the traditional farming uses like vegetable, ornamental plant and fish production, the sites spanning a total land area of 96,031 sqm, can each be developed to include some commercial uses at a maximum quantum of 200 sqm of GFA for food & beverage / retail, and a maximum of 300 sqm of GFA for rustic guest accommodation and/or spa facilities. The various allowable uses for the four sites include fish farming/orchid/plant production/vegetable cultivation/toad and/or frog culture. Please refer to Annex A for details on each site and Annex B for the location maps.

4 SLA’s Deputy Director of Land Sales, Mr Teo Jing Kok, said: “The feedback from farmers and our research shows that the sale of agricultural sites with a small infusion of commercial use is indeed also the best business model for farmers to pursue their agriculture business. The injection of some commercial use would allow the farmers to diversify their operation and have an additional source of revenue for the farmers. Such recreational and educational opportunity encourages farmers to be more attuned to changing social and economic trends, and incentivise them to look out for entrepreneurial opportunities. The end result is that Singapore becomes a more exciting and interesting place to live in or visit.”

5 The tender for the four sites at Sungei Tengah is open for 5 weeks and will close on 15 November 2007. Information of the sale has been published on Gebiz. More information can be found in the developer’s packets. The developer’s packet can be purchased at $52.50 (inclusive of Goods and Services Tax) from the Singapore Land Authority at 8 Shenton Way, #26-01, Singapore 068811 from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm and Saturday, 8.30 to 11am.

Upper Pickering Hotel Site Attracts Record Bid

Source : The Strait Times, Oct 11, 2007

A HOTEL site at Upper Pickering Street has drawn strong interest from developers, with the highest bid being a record one for such a property.
Nine bids had been submitted when the tender closed yesterday.

The top bidder - mainboard-listed Hotel Plaza - put in a price of $253.2 million for the 6,959 sq m site. Given the gross floor area of 29,227 sq m, this works out to about $805 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr).

Hotel Plaza is developer United Overseas Land's hotel arm.

Hotel Plaza's bid was 21 per cent higher than the second-highest bid of $209 million, or $664 psf ppr, placed by Park Plaza.

The record bid is at least 40 per cent higher than the prices paid for two hotel sites on Tanjong Pagar Road that were awarded recently, said CBRE Research's executive director, Mr Li Hiaw Ho.

In June, a hotel site on Tanjong Pagar Road and Gopeng Street was awarded to Carlton Properties for $123 million, or $573 psf ppr.

A month later, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) awarded a hotel plot on Tras Street to businessman Chng Gim Huat of the CGH Group for $97.1 million, or $562 psf ppr.

'The prevailing optimistic mood in the hotel and tourism markets could account for the record-high prices submitted for the Upper Pickering Street site,' said CBRE's Mr Li.

The 99-year leasehold site, launched for sale by the URA on July 18, is located in an ideal spot - at the junction of New Bridge Road and Upper Pickering Street and at the edge of the Central Business District - to cater to business travellers, said Mr Li.

Besides Hotel Plaza and Park Plaza, there were seven other bidders, including Hiap Hoe Superbowl and Ho Bee Investment.

Hotel Plaza currently owns and operates the 350-room Plaza Parkroyal, the adjoining The Plaza and the 337-room Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel, among others.

The group also has interests in hotels overseas.

The URA said yesterday that the bids will be evaluated and that the decision on the award will be made later.

MAS Ups Pace Of Sing $ Appreciation, Citing Price Pressures

Source : The Business Times, October 11, 2007

Currency hits 10-year-high against US$ as news of new stance trickles in











The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) surprised currency markets with a decision to 'increase slightly' the pace of annual appreciation for the trade-weighted Singapore dollar in its semi-annual Monetary Policy Statement yesterday - while keeping unchanged its overall stance of a modest and gradual appreciation.

Explaining the decision, MAS in a statement said: 'Domestic price pressures are expected to persist due to heightened supply constraints, while externally, oil, food and other commodity prices will remain firm into next year.'

A stronger currency would help contain price increases by lowering the cost of imports.

Traders reported that the US dollar slid to a fresh 10-year low of S$1.4620 when the news of MAS' stance hit the market at the start of currency trading yesterday morning, but it was able to make a slight comeback thereafter to end the day at S$1.4645 - possibly aided by some intervention, traders speculated.

That said, the news also prompted currency strategists to lower their end-2007 and 2008 forecasts for the US dollar yesterday.





















In its latest statement yesterday, MAS raised its inflation forecast for 2008 to 2-3 per cent, with the recent Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike expected to raise headline consumer price inflation (CPI) to 3.5 per cent in the first half of 2008. This is up from the 1.5-2 per cent inflation pace that MAS now expects for the local economy in 2007 as a whole - which in turn was raised from the more modest 0.5-1.5 per cent rise in prices predicted in its April 2007 statement.

For overall GDP growth, the republic is also expected to out-do April's 4.5-6.5 per cent forecast, to grow at the upper end of a revised 7-8 per cent pace this year.

In announcing its decision yesterday, MAS revealed that besides upping its appreciation pace slightly, there would be no re-centring of its policy band, or its width - both of which are undisclosed by the local central bank.

Since the early 1980s, the local central bank has fine-tuned the value of the S$NEER as the main tool of its monetary policy, given the very open nature of the local economy.

Private sector models have estimated that since MAS first implemented its current stance for a modest and gradual appreciation of the S$NEER in April 2004, this has translated into an annual appreciation pace of something like 1.5-2.5 per cent per annum, within plus/minus bands of up to 2.5 per cent around its changing central value.

With MAS' decision to 'increase slightly the slope of the S$NEER policy band' announced yesterday, that annual appreciation pace of 1.5-2.5 per cent could now have been raised to something like 2-3 per cent, suggest MAS watchers here.

Jimmy Koh, head of economic and treasury research at UOB, suggests an appreciation pace of 2.5 per cent into 2008, while JPMorgan's head of Asia forex research Claudio Piron estimates the pace has risen now from 2.25 to 2.75 per cent per annum.

And, suggested OCBC currency strategist Emmanuel Ng yesterday: 'Our initial take is that the slope steepening, as opposed to the other alternative of re-centring the band higher at pre-announcement levels, represents a more hawkish policy signal. Over the medium term, this suggests greater latitude for S$NEER appreciation if the need so arises compared to a band re-centring.'

Mr Koh explained his upward-revised 2.5 per cent appreciation pace for the S$NEER based on MAS' higher inflation forecast: 'If inflation is now expected to rise 2-3 per cent in 2008, this would seem to suggest that the S$NEER appreciation path will also increase from the previous estimate of 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent or so.'

He has accordingly revised his year-end targets for the US dollar lower this year and next - to S$1.47 and S$1.44 respectively, compared to S$1.48 and S$1.46 before MAS announcement yesterday.

He explained: 'It appears to us that China may have also upped its appreciation pace for the yuan more recently, to something like 5-7 per cent per annum, and we expect Asian units to become more willing to take over the bigger share of appreciation versus the US dollar in 2008 - taking over from 2007's top gainers like the euro, Australian dollar and Canadian dollar.'

Mr Piron, who estimates a slightly faster pace of 2.75 per cent, now expects the US currency to finish the year at S$1.46, down from S$1.48 before the MAS decision.

But, he cautioned that this may not have any large impact in the short-term: 'Note that an additional half-a-per-cent increase in the slope translates into an additional 0.13 basis points per day on a 360 day count basis.

'Indeed, the MAS is suspected by some participants to have slowed Sing appreciation this morning near the USD/SGD 1.4640-50 level, which according to our MAS S$NEER reading at the time was 130 basis points on the strong side of the policy band and close to (our estimated) 150 basis point upper limit.'

Rising Rents Are Now A Business Challenge

Source : The Business Times, October 11, 2007

Demand and supply mismatch has caused office rentals in the CBD to skyrocket

OFFICE rentals in the Central Business District (CBD) have been climbing relentlessly as a result of the demand and supply mismatch. Conversion of buildings for residential use and the redevelopment of ageing office blocks such as Ocean Building and Overseas Union House further exacerbate the office supply crunch.

Office squeeze: The Marina Bay Financial Centre will only be ready in a few years' time, and the demand- supply imbalance is expected to continue till then

The high demand for office space, which is propelled by financial institutions and business services, continues to drastically outpace new supply. During the first half of this year, supply of office space decreased by about 290,000 sq ft due to the conversion of office space for other use. As a result, the market could not keep up with the 1.29 million sq ft of new demand.

The islandwide occupancy rate for office space rose to a 10-year high of 92 per cent, while Grade A office space in the CBD stood at an almost full occupancy rate of 99 per cent.

In a bid to ease the current office supply crunch, the government has came up with 'stop-gap supply-side' measures such as disallowing the conversion of office space for other uses until the end of 2009, releasing more land for office development under the Government Land Sales programme, as well as offering vacant government buildings for lease as offices.

As most of the major office developments such as Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) will only be ready from 2009 onward, the demand-supply imbalance will continue for the time being. Rental hikes for better quality office space are expected.

Those that are feeling the heat are the smaller and medium-sized companies - both local and multinational corporations (MNCs). They have been leasing prime office space in the CBD area and are caught out by the spike in rentals. To them, coping with rising rentals represents a genuine business challenge.

Despite escalating rentals, foreign investment banks continue to snap up large office floor plates for expansion or relocation of their global operations hub. These financial institutions are eager to set up new offices in Singapore to meet the demands of Asia's unprecedented growth in wealth management. One example is Standard Chartered Bank, which signed one of Singapore's largest office-leasing deals in April. It leased about half a million sq ft of office space, equivalent to 24 floors at MBFC that is slated for completion in 2010.

Major office projects under development and expected to be up in the market in 2007 and 2008 include VisionCrest, Wilkie Edge, 200 Newton and Merrill Lynch Harbourfront, which is already fully leased.

Amid the current office property boom, one can still find cost-effective commercial rental options.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has been releasing vacant state properties and putting them up for lease as offices. A few successful bidders have refurbished the existing sites for renting out to corporate office users. The current rental for these space ranges between $4.00 and $8.50 per sq ft (psf).

Closer to the CBD, 150 Cantonment Road and 341 River Valley Road are expected to be ready for occupation in the final quarter of this year. 150 Cantonment Road has a smaller floor plate of about 6,800 sq ft per floor, while 341 River Valley can cater to tenants which need floor plates of about 50,000 sq ft.

Another spot of interest is the former ITE Pasir Panjang site at 991 Alexandra Road. This site, largest of all the properties released by SLA, can be converted into eight modern low-rise office blocks ranging from one to four storeys and offices ranging from 5,000 sq ft to 41,000 sq ft. Capitalising on the size, the successful bidder, Richzone, plans to create a self-sufficient office environment, complete with cafe and gym, decorated with a lush landscape that is different from a typical city office. This property will be ready for occupation in the first quarter of 2008.

On the other hand, some companies have decided to renew their contracts at higher rents. To cope with expansion, they have to rearrange their office space by reducing the size of workstations and/or decreasing filing space.

Others opt for relocation, even though it is a less preferred choice, in which a number of them split their operations - the main office remains in the CBD while operation personnel are relocated to the fringe areas or regional centres.

Wrapping up, rising office rental is a by-product of a buoyant economy. Operating costs are certainly higher as a consequence but so are more opportunities to generate revenue. At the end of the day, the effects of the existing office supply crunch are only short-term and they will ease as developments begin to come on stream. In the meantime, companies can help themselves by exploring all possibilities, and the good news is that cost-effective rental options are not lacking.

This article is contributed by Knight Frank