Singapore pushes new financial downtown amid downturn

Singapore is pushing ahead with an ambitious plan to build a new hub for banks, brokerages and other businesses despite a glut in the office market and a downturn in the financial sector.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan told a news conference the project, to be built on already reclaimed land on the waterfront, would strengthen SingaporeÂ's position as an integrated business and financial centre.

The government said it plans to release a large site for the new development in the first half of 2003, yielding about 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet) of gross floor area.

But property consultants -- who estimated the cost at up to $3 billion ($1.7 billion) -- questioned the timing in the midst of vacant space in existing office blocks and after five domestic banking groups consolidated into three last year.

(source: Reuters)

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