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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

KL, JB among Asia most expensive cities

SINGAPORE: Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Georgetown are among the cities earning the reputation as most expensive in Asia, according to a latest cost living survey.

KL is ranked 38th, JB 40th and Georgetown 42nd, said the survey on the 50 most expensive cities in Asia carried out by ECA International for 2009.

Globally, KL is ranked 210, JB 216 and Georgetown 218.
ECA, the world's leading knowledge and solutions provider for international human resources professionals, said strong currencies were pushing up the cost of living in Asian locations.

It said Tokyo remained the most expensive city in Asia, due largely to the appreciation of the yen against other major currencies, and joining the Japanese capital in the region’s top ten are Beijing (ranked 5th) and Shanghai (6th) as well as Hong Kong (7th) and Singapore (10th).

ECA regional director for Asia, Lee Quane, said the strengthening of Asian currencies was the dominant factor contributing to the region being more expensive for visitors than it was 12 months ago.

He said during the period, the yuan continued to strengthen while the yen had appreciated by almost eight percent against the US dollar, and many western currencies, including sterling, the euro and the Swiss franc, had weakened.

ECA carries out a Cost of Living Survey twice a year comparing a basket of commonly purchased consumer goods and services in over 370 locations worldwide.

ECA said Singapore had moved into the top ten most expensive locations within the region in spite of its weakened currency.

"Price rises have not slowed down as much in Singapore as in other parts of Asia," Quane said, adding that its data showed that while the prices of goods and services in China and

Malaysia had increased at half last year’s pace, in Singapore the rate was down by just 25 per cent.

Furthermore, currencies of locations previously more expensive than Singapore, notably London, Stockholm and Istanbul, had depreciated at an even faster rate than the Singapore dollar, he said.

These factors had contributed to Singapore becoming more expensive for visitors than many of the other locations in the survey, Quane added.

ECA also said the depreciation of the ringgit had made the cost of living cheaper for assignees heading to Malaysia.

The Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar (ranked 51), is the cheapest location in Asia, with goods and services approximately a third of the cost there than when purchased in Tokyo.

Overall, the city of Luanda in Angola kept its rank as the most expensive city in the world followed by Tokyo, and Maseru, Lesotho is the cheapest.

By Bernama

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