POLICYMAKERS have a major challenge to ensure capital flows to the kind of infrastructure development that can promote sustainable and equitable growth, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.
He told a summit in Singapore that infrastructure spending is estimated to have to increase by about 15 per cent for countries to achieve even moderate levels of growth. "The scale of spending required is significant. It raises questions on whether and how our financial systems can deliver the required financing," he added.
Mr Lim noted that governments drive about 60 per cent of infrastructure spending around the world, but pressure on budgets may mean that current levels of outlay are no longer sustainable.
Bank lending is also being increasingly constrained by global economic factors and tighter regulations. That suggests that other sources of funding will have to be found, including more input from the private sector, which has been participating actively enough, especially in debt financing.
"There are many reasons for this, including a lack of familiarity with the asset class and bespoke nature of infrastructure projects," said Mr Lim, who was giving the opening address at the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit at the InterContinental Singapore.
"Some see higher perceived political risk in Asia, and a limited range of investment instruments relating to infrastructure."
Mr Lim noted that banks could consider bringing in different types of capital at different stages as the risk profile of a project changes.