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Singapore Budget 2018: New Infrastructure Office for projects in Asia

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It reflects the Singapore government's consistent message to its people and businesses to embrace technology and continuously upskill to remain relevant.

Singapore

TO HELP firms tap infrastructure opportunities in Asia, such as those created by China's Belt and Road Initiative, Singapore will set up an Infrastructure Office this year.

It will bring together local and international firms across the value chain - from developers and institutional investors to legal, accounting and financial services providers - to develop, finance and execute projects.

"As Asia's growth will raise infrastructure demand, we seek to forge stronger partnerships in infrastructure development and enhance connectivity in the region," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

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This is one of several moves in Budget 2018 to encourage firms to forge partnerships at home and abroad, with Mr Heng stressing the importance of cooperation for Singapore's economic development.

The Infrastructure Office - to be set up by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore - will provide a platform for information exchange and facilitate infrastructure investments and financing. More details are to come in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Law's Committee of Supply.

"This is a welcome opportunity," said Nina Yang, chief executive officer of sustainable urban development at urban solutions provider Ascendas-Singbridge. Mrs Yang added that her business unit will look further into the Office's support initiatives.

Satya Ramamurthy, partner and head of infrastructure, government and healthcare at KPMG in Singapore, said the Office represents "an ecosystem approach" in enabling Singapore to be a meaningful player in Asian infrastructure projects.

In another move to encourage collaboration, existing grants to support partnerships will be merged into a single Pact (Partnerships for Capability Transformation) scheme.

The grants to be combined are: the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Spring Singapore's separate Pact schemes; Spring's Collaborative Industry Projects scheme; and IE Singapore's Global Company Partnership Grant. Spring and IES are currently being merged to form Enterprise Singapore.

Similar to the existing grants, the new Pact will fund up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs for projects undertaken in partnership with other firms.

It will be administered by EDB and ESG, and will support collaborations between firms in areas such as capability upgrading, business development and internationalisation.

More details will be provided at MTI's Committee of Supply.

Singapore also seeks to build overseas partnerships in technology, innovation and enterprise. As Asean chairman this year, Singapore will develop an Asean Innovation Network.

"We hope this will strengthen the linkages among the innovation ecosystems in the region, and spark new collaborations and solutions," said Mr Heng. More of Singapore's Asean plans will be revealed in MTI's Committee of Supply, he added.

The minister also reiterated the importance of trade associations and chambers in encouraging collaboration and leading transformation.

The government will continue to support such efforts through the Local Enterprise and Association Development programme, he said. In the last two years, about S$45 million has been committed to some 50 projects under the scheme.


HIGHLIGHTS

  • New Infrastructure Office to help firms tap opportunities in Asia
  • Partnership grants to be combined under single Pact scheme
  • New Asean Innovation Network

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SINGAPORE BUDGET 2018

For more stories, visit bt.sg/budget18