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Singapore tops Asia in returns per capita from infrastructure, buildings: study

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Singapore generates the highest built-asset income per person in Asia, at US$35,900, followed by Hong Kong at US$21,400.

SINGAPORE generates the highest built-asset income per person in Asia, at US$35,900, followed by Hong Kong at US$21,400.

This is according to the Global Built Asset Performance Index released on Monday by Arcadis, a global design and consulting firm.

The index is an alternative indicator to measure a country's economic performance. It indicates how built assets can power more growth to economies and examines the income generated by buildings and infrastructure - schools, roads, airports, power plants, malls, railways, ports and all other fixed assets - across 36 countries that collectively represent 78 per cent of global gross domestic product.

It found that the return on built assets per capita is closely correlated with per-capita incomes. For Singapore, it shows that the Republic has ensured its returns on built-asset per capita increased steadily. High savings rates were ploughed into productive investments that created a manufacturing hub and steadily moved up the value chain.

"Today, Singapore competes in some of the most high-value knowledge industries, so reliance on built assets is slightly reduced, though it retains some of its high-tech manufacturing," Arcadis said.

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Girish Ramachandran, head of business advisory, South-east Asia at Arcadis, said: "Singapore's economic growth, which exemplifies development through investment both in built and intangible assets, is certainly slowing. However, the resilience of Singapore's economic growth over decades has been remarkable and so only a slight reduction is expected. It is evident that Singapore is keen to continue building new, smart and value-worth assets, and paying greater attention to maximising the productivity and performance of existing assets for the long term."

South-east Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia have large deposits of a range of commodities, but over long periods they have moved towards manufacturing. To sustain growth, it is essential for these countries to further invest in built assets such as reliable power, transport and communications infrastructure, Arcadis added.

After Singapore and Hong Kong, the countries with the highest built-asset income per person in Asia are Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and India - in that order.

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