S'pore 'world's No. 3 city' by economic, social performance

S'pore 'world's No. 3 city' by economic, social performance

Singapore has emerged as the world's third top city, behind London and New York, in terms of social and economic performance.

In the latest "Cities of Opportunity" study by PwC, the city state climbed four notches from last year's seventh spot, retaining its lead in transport and infrastructure and ease of doing business.

The consultancy studied 30 cities.

Experts told The Straits Times the results are not surprising given Singapore's relatively reliable public transport system and corruption-free, transparent business environment.

"In terms of public transport connectivity, you don't have to walk so much in Singapore," said Dr Park Byung Joon, head of urban transport management at SIM University. "Although we have breakdowns, we are not experiencing an unreasonably high number of them compared to other cities like Seoul."

As well as comparing public transport in areas such as cost and coverage, the transport and infrastructure category included a housing indicator, which saw Singapore ranked top.

Assistant Professor Walter Theseira, from Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) division of economics, believes this boils down to the Housing Board: "You will not find any other city where public housing is so widespread and adequate."

In terms of ease of doing business, Singapore was top in the number of countries it offers a visa waiver to, level of shareholder protection and operational risk climate.

"Singapore has traditionally been a business centre. We don't suffer from corruption and everything is quite transparent," explained Professor Euston Quah, head of economics at NTU and president of the Economics Society of Singapore.

The city state did not, however, fare too well in the categories of cost and sustainability and natural environment, coming in 19th and 16th respectively. It scored particularly poorly for cost of living (25th), cost of business occupancy (20th) and purchasing power (20th).

Prof Quah said this may be due to a tight labour market and land scarcity driving up costs.

Experts noted some indicators for "sustainability and natural environment", such as thermal comfort and public park space, are beyond control given the climate and land scarcity.

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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