SINGAPORE: The Government will issue green bonds on select public infrastructure projects, with up to $19 billion of public sector green projects already identified, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 16).
“Sustainability efforts require capital. Green finances will be an important enabler,” said Mr Heng, who is also Deputy Prime Minister. “The issuance of green bonds by the Government will build on these efforts by deepening market liquidity for green bonds, attracting green issuers, capital, and investors, and anchoring Singapore as a green finance hub.”
The issuance will serve as a reference for the Singapore Dollar corporate green bond market, including the standards and framework applied, as well as the yields achieved, added Mr Heng.
“As an international financial centre, Singapore can catalyse the flow of capital towards sustainable development, not just in Singapore, but in Asia,” he pointed out.
“MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) has been driving Singapore’s Green Finance Action Plan to develop green finance solutions and markets for a sustainable economy.”
One of the green projects that has been identified to be financed with green bonds is Tuas Nexus, revealed Mr Heng. Tuas Nexus is Singapore’s first integrated waste and water treatment facility, and is set to be completed in phases starting 2025.
READ: Construction begins on ‘energy self-sufficient’ water and solid waste treatment facility Tuas Nexus
THE NEED FOR TECHNOLOGY
In addition to capital, technology will also be a “key enabler” of Singapore’s Green Plan, said Mr Heng.
Unveiled last week, the Green Plan has been called a “whole-of-nation movement” to advance the national agenda on sustainable development. It charts Singapore’s green targets over the next 10 years.
“This is an ambitious long-term plan that builds on ongoing efforts, to secure a green, liveable, and sustainable home for generations of Singaporeans to come,” noted Mr Heng.
At the same time, he pointed out that there will be “constraints” and trade-offs.
“Costs and benefits of projects will change, as climate cost is factored in and as technology advances. We must continue to stay open and adaptive, and carefully balance our development objectives with sustainability considerations,” Mr Heng said.
READ: Budget 2021: Govt to review 'trajectory and level' of carbon tax; outcome at next year's Budget
When it comes to technology, Mr Heng noted that it is a “game changer” and will open new possibilities.
“We harnessed technology to overcome our water and land constraints, and will do the same for climate change,” he added.
Mr Heng gave the example of the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, which innovated and patented fish farm “Eco-Ark” with funding support from the Agriculture Productivity Fund. As a result, the fish farm can produce 20 times more output than the average in coastal fish farms.
To continue supporting technology adoption in the agri-food sector, Mr Heng noted that Singapore will set aside $60 million for a new Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund. This will replace the Agriculture Productivity Fund.
The actions of Singaporeans also matter for the Green Plan to work, added Mr Heng.
The Government will lead by example, he said, with ministries charting out plans to meet resource targets. But he noted that the public sector will do more.
As part of the Green Plan, the Government will be committing to more ambitious goals under the “GreenGov.Sg” initiative for the public sector, he explained. More details will be revealed at the Committee of Supply debates, he added.
“This gives renewed focus to the public sector’s contribution towards national sustainability goals, and reminds all public officers that sustainability must be at the core of our work,” Mr Heng said.