Penang may face property shortage, says chief minister

GEORGE TOWN: The demand for property, both commercial and residential, in Penang has been so high that there may be a shortage in the state, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Stressing that the high purchasing rate underscored the growing success of building the state, he also viewed the situation as a positive economic outcome of the initiatives to make Penang a major business process outsourcing (BPO) hub for the world market.

In particular, the current scenario fulfils a prediction that Penang is emerging as one of the 31 future global BPO hubs in the world, he said in a statement yesterday.

Lim was commenting on a report in the latest edition of The Edge Malaysia, dated Oct 21, in which Penang is listed as among those having the lowest property overhang for unsold shops, as well as residential and industrial units in the country, for the second quarter of 2013.

Property overhang refers to units that are still unsold nine months after having been launched.

According to the list, only 40 shop units valued at RM17.11 million, 25 industrial lots at RM6.34 million and 163 residential units at RM 63.4 million were unsold in the second quarter of 2013.

Johor had the largest overhang, with 1,864 shops valued at RM427.56 million, 150 industrial units at RM74.18 million and 3,573 residential units valued at RM679.2 million unsold.

“Other cities may suffer a glut of office space, but Penang is not facing this problem and may even face a shortage,” Lim said.

“The low property overhang in shops in Malaysia highlights the growing success of building up Penang and fulfilling KPMG’s predictions as one of the 31 future global business process outsourcing hubs in the world.”

He stressed that many multi-national companies in the electronics industries have made Penang their administrative and manufacturing hub, with shared service outsourcing (SSO) operations in areas like human resources, procurement, data processing, credit transactions, finance and accounting as well as IT.

Two years ago, the state government began focusing on the services sector, which employs almost 100% local workers with high-paying jobs, and the move is now beginning to show results, he said.

Lim also expressed confidence that the setting up of a BPO hub in the state will help in attracting and in retaining talent in Penang.

“This is in line with Penang’s economic development and investment strategy and I am confident that BPO’s success in Penang will also be Penang’s and Malaysia’s success.

“To stimulate future growth, the Penang state government has set aside 17 acres (6.88ha) of land in Bayan Baru and Bayan Lepas to be the Penang BPO hub,” he said, describing it as the state’s biggest BPO project.

Stretched over Bayan Baru (Phase 1) and Bayan Lepas (Phase 2), the hub will offer more than 1.7 million sq ft of exterior space within the next three to five years.

Lim also noted that top companies recently opened new operations in Penang, including AirAsia Bhd, which moved its IT, procurement and human resources shared services from Bangkok to Penang.

Wilmar, a global edible food giant with revenues of US$45 billion (RM143.1 billion) and market leader in cooking oil in Indonesia, India and China, has also just opened its shared services hub in Penang.

Global financial services company Citibank Bhd is partnering with InvestPenang to promote Penang and Malaysia as a strategic centre for treasury management activities.

The group’s Citigroup Transaction Services (M) Sdn Bhd in Penang is the largest regional trade and cash processing centre for the transaction services business.

It employs more than 1,000 local workers to service clients in Asia, North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with 20 million transactions worth US$5.8 trillion annually, he noted.

Lim said by leveraging on the existing advantages of Penang as a world-class manufacturing sector, it has helped to catalyse the growth of the IT and services industry in Penang.


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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 23, 2013.






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