'Tap demand from infrastructure boom'

PHOTO: 'Tap demand from infrastructure boom'

The region is presenting many opportunities involving infrastructure projects, thanks to its fast-paced development and rapid urbanisation, a conference heard on Thursday.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that US$8 trillion (S$10 trillion) will need to be invested in infrastructure before 2020.

Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, told the inaugural Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable: "The demand (for development) would be broad-based across many sectors such as power, transport and water, and translates directly into a wealth of opportunities that can be tapped by the infrastructure industry."

Singapore already has a strategy to boost its standing as an infrastructure hub, he noted.

This involves matching private funds with regional governments to finance the projects.

Mr Lee said the country has already partnered international and regional bodies to set up two infrastructure finance centres here.

These centres work with regional governments to structure infrastructure projects and possibly tap capital markets for funding.

Mr Lee, who is also Senior Minister of State for National Development, noted that the public sector in Asia generally lacks the capacity to structure high-quality infrastructure projects that lenders are willing to bankroll.

"Consequently, regional infrastructure projects still remain a relatively challenging investment option for private investors, despite strong interest," he said.

This is where Singapore, as an "infrastructure hub", can address the gap by bringing the various players together, said Mr Lee.

Regional governments recognise the urgent need for such work so that their countries can continue growing economically.

Mr Lee cited plans for transport investment from Thailand's government and India's renewable energy goals.

Thursday's event, which was organised by IE Singapore, was attended by representatives from more than 100 Singapore and regional infrastructure players, including project developers, consultants, financiers, fund managers, technology providers and contractors.

IE Singapore chief executive Teo Eng Cheong told the event that local companies can also be on the hunt for contracts.

"Singapore companies have strengths in... detailed planning, effective project development, engineering, procurement and construction, and efficient operations," he said.

Aside from new infrastructure projects, existing ageing infrastructure also needs to be upgraded or replaced, added Mr Teo.

jonkwok@sph.com.sg


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