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Moves to help S'pore act as region's hub for infrastructure

Publication Date : 01-04-2014


New initiatives to help Singapore capitalise on the region's demand for infrastructure were unveiled yesterday.

The measures are aimed at encouraging Asian governments, investors and other private sector players to use Singapore as a base to develop, finance and execute major infrastructure projects.

One step takes the form of a S$17 million (US$13 million) collaboration between trade agency IE Singapore and the Asian Development Bank to help regional governments work with the private sector on infrastructure development.

Called the Asia Infrastructure Centre of Excellence, it will facilitate projects ranging from power generation to transport infrastructure and water management, with an initial focus on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

A scheme called the Infrastructure Development Programme to train university students will also be rolled out in a bid to tackle the industry's talent shortage.

It starts next month with an internship scheme that will give 24 students from the National University of Singapore the chance to work for project developers, consultancies, project finance banks and others in the infrastructure development sector.

The initiatives were announced by IE Singapore at the Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable held yesterday at Pan Pacific Hotel.

Emerging Asia is growing at a healthy pace, with a growth forecast of 6.5 per cent this year, said Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry.

But he told the event that "this is not commensurate with the number and value of infrastructure projects in the region, which have largely flatlined since 2008".

Asia needs about US$8 trillion worth of infrastructure investments between 2010 and 2020 to aid its growth, a report by the Asian Development Bank showed. However, investment in the region has averaged only US$98.6 billion a year since 2009 and hit only US$141.3 billion at its peak in 2008.

Singapore is in a position to capitalise on this by acting as the region's infrastructure hub, said Kow Juan Tiang, the group director for environment and infrastructure services at IE Singapore.

"(We aim to create an environment where) projects can be structured - from an engineering and financing perspective - so that private investors can get a reasonable rate of return and will be prepared to invest in these projects alongside governments," he said.


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