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Singapore Budget 2018: Maritime industry gets S$100m more for transition to digital, automated future

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THE Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore will top up its Maritime Cluster Fund by S$100 million to help the industry test-bed and embrace new technologies as well as groom talent for a digital and automated maritime future.

Senior Minister of State for Transport, Dr Lam Pin Min said at the committee of supply debate on Wednesday that MCF is expected to support about 30 new projects and benefit some 5,000 people annually. This latest injection will lift the total investment since 2007 under MCF to S$285 million.

Dr Lam who is also the Senior Minister of State for Health, added that the Maritime Transformation Map (MTP) Programme, that will be rolled out over the next few months, will co-fund, with matching investments from industry partners, the development of technology with high potential for industry application.

The Port of Singapore has recorded strong throughput growth in 2017, with the volume off boxed cargoes handled here expanding 8.9 per cent to 33.7 million TEUs (20-foot-equivalent-units).

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This growth in container throughput was spurred on by improvements in global trade growth and repositioning of major shipping lines.

But with competition heating up among regional ports and global transportation and supply chains facing disruption from digitalisation, there is no room for complacency, said Dr Lam.

Singapore has already benefited from additional investments pumped in by major shipping lines to build capacity here. Port operator PSA and shipping giant CMA CGM launched the second phase of their container terminal joint venture in March 2017, lifting the total operating capacity at the CMA CGM-PSA Lion Terminal to four million TEUs, up from two million TEUs. PSA and Cosco Pacific also began operations last year from three new container berths that can handle mega box ships at the Pasir Panjang terminal.

Still, Singapore has to work on boosting connectivity, not just for physical but also non-physical trade flows, to stay relevant as a maritime hub, said Dr Lam.

More specifically, he said that Singapore has to "build a more inter-connected and vibrant network" to position itself as "a node for maritime business activities and information flows".

He has considered catalysing the growth of non-traditional players including maritime technology enterprises as a step up towards bolstering non-physical connectivity and inter-linkages.

MPA has already extended funding support to technology start-up, XjeraLabs, which has been working with Jurong Port to develop a proof-of-concept for the use of video analytics to track container vehicles moving in and out of the port.

In addition, MPA has set out to establish a one-stop data repository, the SG-MDH, which will help enable the development and test-bedding of digital apps and services for the maritime industry.

For more stories on Budget 2018, click here.  

SINGAPORE BUDGET 2018

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