AIIB a push for regional growth: Swee Keat

Infrastructure is critical in spurring economic growth and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a significant initiative in advancing infrastructure development and connectivity in the region, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has said.

He was speaking at the inaugural board of governors' meeting session in Beijing last Saturday.

The AIIB is an initiative spearheaded by China that aims to make and facilitate investments in infrastructure projects in this part of the world. Singapore is one of the founding members.

Mr Heng also outlined four ways that the bank could foster economic and social development in Asia.

Firstly, the bank could "help to strengthen the capabilities of policymakers in the region, so that they are better able to structure projects to make this viable and to maximise the economic and social impact".

Public officials need to be better equipped to manage complex projects and project risks, Mr Heng said.

Secondly, the bank could "make concerted efforts to leverage its financing and crowd in funding from the private sector as co-investments".

Mr Heng said the benefits of private-sector involvement went beyond the mere provision of funds and could also contribute market expertise and proper financial discipline to infrastructure projects.

A third suggestion he made is that the AIIB could contribute to strengthening the infrastructure financing landscape. He called on the bank to explore innovative mechanisms to spur the development of infrastructure as an asset class.

Fourthly, the bank could collaborate with other multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to promote sustained growth in Asia.

Mr Heng also met his Chinese counterpart, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei. They discussed a wide range of issues, including how they could co-operate on regional and global financial stability.

This article was first published on Jan 18, 2016.
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