Seven-year F1 extension took into account COVID-19 travel recovery, NS Square construction: Gan Kim Yong
SINGAPORE: Factors like the time it would take for post-pandemic travel to recover were taken into account in Singapore's decision to renew the contract to host the Formula 1 race for another seven years, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday (Aug 2).
It was the fourth contract renewal and longest extension.
The construction of NS Square, in the Marina Bay area near the F1 circuit, was also taken into consideration, said Mr Gan. Works for NS Square are expected to be completed by the end of 2026.
Mr Gan was responding to a parliamentary question by Workers' Party MP Gerald Giam, who asked for a breakdown of the process by which the decision to renew the F1 contract for another seven years was made.
He also asked if the ministry is reviewing the contract in light of information that has emerged relating to possible conflicts of interest in the decision-making process - an apparent reference to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau's (CPIB) recent investigation involving Transport Minister S Iswaran and billionaire Ong Beng Seng.
"We are unable to comment about any CPIB investigations that are ongoing," Mr Gan said in his written reply.
Explaining the decision to continue hosting the F1 Singapore Grand Prix, Mr Gan said that towards the end of the third contract term in 2021, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) commissioned an independent consultancy study to evaluate the costs and benefits of a fourth term extension.
"The study concluded that the race would continue to bring significant benefits to Singapore," he said.
"To allow time for international travel to recover after COVID-19, and to take into account the construction of NS Square, MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) and STB ascertained that an extension of seven years would be appropriate."
The government accepted STB’s recommendation in September 2021, Mr Gan said, adding that STB entered a seven-year contract with race organiser Singapore GP in January 2022.
Mr Gan noted that the F1 race has generated more than S$1.5 billion (US$1.12 billion) in incremental tourism receipts and attracted more than 550,000 unique international visitors since its debut in 2008.
The race continues to "reinforce Singapore’s reputation as a global city", attract MICE events, generate local business spend and create jobs for Singaporeans, he added.
COST OF ORGANISING 2022 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
The cost of organising the 2022 race was between S$135 million and S$140 million, similar to previous years, Mr Gan said in response to questions from Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) Hazel Poa.
"As per past years, the government’s share of the costs was 60 per cent of the total cost," he said in his written reply.
Types of costs that the government co-funded included maintenance of the race track, setting up infrastructure such as grandstands and hospitality suites, as well as providing security and medical services during the event.
This year's Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled to take place from Sep 15 to 17.