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Speech By The Minister For Health And Second Minister For Finance, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, At The Official Opening Ceremony Of Paragon On Tuesday, 18 Jan 2000 At 11.13 Am At The Atrium Of The Paragon Shopping Centre

18 Jan 2000

Mr Lim Kim San,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

New Beginnings for Paragon
1. Paragon Shopping Centre has come a long way since it was launched in Dec 1991. Then it had 303,000 square feet of shop and office space and 89 retail outlets. When Orchard 290 Ltd acquired it in Jul 1997, the shopping podium underwent a massive refurbishment programme beginning in late 1997. Orchard 290 Ltd embarked on a two phased construction programme to transform Paragon into a modern and sophisticated building. The first phase saw the renovation of the shopping podium, completed in Oct 98 and re-launched in Nov 98. The total net lettable area for the shopping podium is now 306,000 square feet with 111 retail outlets including 3 anchor tenants, 37 fashion outlets and 16 Food & Beverage outlets. The tenants are blue-chip and truly international - Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Zegna, Ferragamo, Escada and Singapore Airlines. Our home-grown Metro is the anchor along with Sogo and Marks and Spencer.

2. The second phase added a fourteen storey tower block by the end of last year. Seven floors of this new tower are devoted to housing medical and dental practices, taking advantage of Paragon's proximity to Mount Elizabeth Hospital. With the completion of the office and medical tower, a total of 183,000 square feet of net lettable floor area has been made available for offices and medical suites in the prime Orchard Road area.

New Beginnings for Singapore and Asia
3. Just two and a half years ago, Singapore and the rest of the region were plunged into the economic crisis. Many companies went bust, sending their employees into retrenchment. The mood was dismal and grim. Singapore fared better than many of our neighbours, in part due to our sound economic fundamentals. The Government, however, quickly instituted cost-cutting measures in 1998 and with the help of the population who rallied around the government, Singapore slowly emerged from the crisis last year, with a robust 6.7% growth in 2Q99 and 3Q99. The rest of the region has similarly reported positive economic performance.

4. This year, Singapore got off to a good start when we went through the Y2K without any complications, due to the careful preparations made by government agencies and the companies here. This is but one example of how the Government will work hand in hand with the private sector to solve any problem that threatens the prosperity of Singapore.

5. For 2000 and the years ahead, we look forward to renewed prosperity, with growth in GDP arising from a growth in exports, and a more liberalised financial sector. Correspondingly, we expect to see rising domestic consumption which will in turn inject more life into the retail industry and spur on the manufacturing, retail and hospitality industries. The Singapore Government takes a long-term view and believes in having steady policies. We aim to reduce cost as well as ensure that our exports are competitive, jobs are preserved, and companies in difficulties can retain jobs.

6. The opening of a big shopping and office project like the Paragon in the new year is a positive omen of the growing prosperity that we would hope to see in Singapore for this year. The fact that Orchard 290 Ltd could renovate Paragon on such a large scale through a regional storm indeed shows its corporate strength and long-term focus.

New Year, New Millennium - New Hope
7. We have just celebrated our entry into the New Millennium with the Millennium Swing and celebrations all over Singapore. The whole world has similarly seen fit to celebrate this historic event. People everywhere look forward with hope to a new era of peace and prosperity. Coming out of two difficult years, Singaporeans too now look to the future with optimism, whilst remembering to ensure that those less fortunate will continue to be remembered and cared for.

8. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Orchard 290 Ltd today on the opening of Paragon.