SINGAPORE: Local and international firms across the engineering, legal, professional and financial services, from different parts of the infrastructure value chain can now be better connected with one another and government officials when developing, financing and executing infrastructure projects in Asia.
This is made possible with the launch of a new government agency called Infrastructure Asia on Tuesday (Oct 23), which aims to connect the supply and demand for infrastructure projects.
The initiative, led by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, serves as a one-stop platform to facilitate regional infrastructure collaboration.
Speaking at the 8th Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the launch of the agency comes on the back of a need to address infrastructure demand in the region, as well as to harness expertise across the value chain to make projects bankable, investible and visible.
The agency was first raised by Mr Heng in his Budget Day speech in February.
“Given the high costs of infrastructure projects, which tend to be lumpy, and the huge overall infrastructure needs, few single governments can have enough resources to meet these needs alone. We need to crowd in private capital.”
And to better attract private and institutional investors, Mr Heng said the government needs to promote awareness of the pipeline of infrastructure projects.
“Addressing the bankability and visibility of infrastructure projects requires confidence in the public sector. Governments play a fundamental role in ensuring a conducive regulatory environment that is attractive to the private sector.”
To this end, Infrastructure Asia inked deals with the World Bank Group and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to spur project collaborations.
Under the deals, Infrastructure Asia will organize capacity building workshops with relevant partners, ramp up engagement with local authorities in regional markets and strengthen connections with the regional infrastructure ecosystems. These deals will be implemented over the next year.
Mr Heng explained that the deal with the World Bank Group will help Asian countries handle large, complex infrastructure projects, while the deal with SBF will create greater access to infrastructure opportunities in the region.
Infrastructure Asia’s executive director Seth Tan said: “Infrastructure Asia will work closely with the private sector, governments, commercial and multilateral development banks to provide solutions that are customized to meet the local market’s specific needs and requirements. We will also offer advice to relevant countries and work with them on capacity building.”
The Asian Development Bank has projected that developing economies in Asia will need to invest some S$36 trillion in infrastructure projects until 2030, which translates to some S$2.4 trillion a year. Asia is also estimated to face an investment gap of S$635 billion annually for infrastructure.