Published Date: 19 November 1998

Opening Remarks by Dr Richard Hu, Minister for Finance, at the Official Opening of Morgan Stanley Dean Writer's New Office, Capital Square, 19 Nov 1998

Good evening, Mr Philip Purcell, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. My heartiest congratulations to the management and staff of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter on the opening of your new office premises.

2   Since Morgan Stanley Dean Witter first started operating in Singapore in 1990, it has substantially grown in both size and function. Your employment in Singapore doubled over the last two years. I am happy to note that Singapore is now a major hub in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's global operations, engaging in a variety of businesses including investment banking, asset management, securities, foreign exchange and derivatives trading. The added capacity in your new premises here at Capital Square will allow you even more opportunities to take on new functions and businesses.

3   Although the economic downturn has cast a blanket of uncertainty over the region, you have chosen to focus beyond the crisis to position yourselves to ride the next wave of opportunities when Asia recovers. We are heartened by your confidence in the region and in Singapore.

4   In particular, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investment Management Company, Singapore is now part of the global team responsible for managing your global emerging market investments. This includes the management of non-Japan Asia mandates in Singapore. This business strategy fits very well with Singapore's objective to be a regional centre for asset managers to manage both Asian mandates of global clients, and the global mandates of Asian clients.

5   In recognition of this commitment, I am pleased to announce the award of the Enhanced Fund Manager 1 status to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investment Management Company. This represents a significant milestone as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investment Management Company is the first fund management company in Singapore to be granted this tax holiday.

6   Turning to the economic challenges facing this region, Singapore is not immune to the contagion effects of the crisis. Our growth for the year has slowed considerably and we face the prospect of little or no growth next year.

7   Singapore needs to maintain its competitiveness in the midst of this crisis. We have announced bold measures to help reduce business cost. Concurrently, we will continue to strengthen our fundamentals such as investing in the education and retraining of our workforce as well as improving our infrastructure.

8   Despite the crisis, we are pressing ahead with our initiatives to develop Singapore into a premier financial centre in Asia. Singapore remains an attractive location for financial institutions to operate in. We were recently ranked the 4th largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world, by the Bank for International Settlements. We are fast catching up with Tokyo. Our strategic location at the gateway of Asia and our excellent air and telecommunication links makes us an attractive regional hub. We will continue to review opportunities that build on our existing strengths. For instance, we just announced the demutualisation of our exchanges, which will provide opportunities for broadening product offerings and better access to financial institutions.

9   Our strengths together with the Government's swift policy responses to the crisis will help us overcome the challenge. By providing a conducive business environment for leading global players like Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to operate here, I am confident that Singapore will emerge an even more attractive and vibrant financial centre.

10   In closing, I would like to thank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter for their commitment to Singapore and wish you every success for the future.

1From Year of Assessment 1999, fund management companies granted the "Enhanced Fund Manager" status under the Tax Exemption Scheme for Fund Management enjoy tax exemption on the fee income received from managing at least S$5b of foreign investors funds.