Opening Address by Lavan Thiru, Executive Director, Infrastructure Asia at the Growing Infrastructure Course (GIC) R5M1 on 5 September 2022
Prof Phang Sock Yong, Celia Moh Chair Professor of Economics at Singapore Management University,
Dr Flocy Joseph, Head Commercial at Singapore Management University Executive Development,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning everyone. I am happy to join you this morning on the first day of the “Growing Infrastructure Course on Enabling and Structuring for Private Sector Participation in Finance and Innovation”.
2. To begin, I would like to wish all of you a very warm welcome to Singapore. You are the very first cohort of participants attending this course in Singapore, since the first 4 runs of this course had to be conducted online. I trust that the face-to-face interactions will make this a much more engaging and enriching experience.
3. The Growing Infrastructure Course is a bespoke program that combines the strengths and expertise of Infrastructure Asia, World Bank Group, and the Singapore Management University. Through such collaborative efforts, we aim to deliver an insightful and practical program that will benefit all of you joining us over the next three days. For this program, Infrastructure Asia brings its extensive connections to infrastructure ecosystems in Singapore and the region, while the World Bank Group lends its global development expertise and SMU brings its technical and professional knowledge.
Uplifting the region’s competency in preparing bankable infrastructure projects
4. To date, 155 regional government officials across 13 countries in South and Southeast Asia have participated in this course. Seeing all of you here from various ministries and implementing agencies from Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Brunei and Nepal signals a strong commitment to advancing infrastructure projects in your countries.
5. This course was designed to support the regional infrastructure scene by developing capabilities in the latest developments and offerings in the infrastructure space. The course will also develop the region’s competency to better prepare infrastructure projects for private sector involvement, and will assist in sourcing for international and private sector financing and innovation.
PPPs are key to accelerating sustainable transportation and urban development infrastructure development in the region
6. International and private sector participation are especially important in the aftermath of Covid-19. Even before the pandemic, Asia had an estimated infrastructure gap of USD 1.7 trillion1 per annum. That figure has gone up now as governments have had to divert budgets towards healthcare and other necessary economic measures. This has resulted in a more urgent need for international and private sector contributions to infrastructure projects.
7. Private sector capital is also keen to come in to fill this gap. There is no shortage of long-term capital ready to be invested in well-structured infrastructure projects. We are seeing global asset owners channel capital into infrastructure projects with sustainable development outcomes in Asia Pacific, including transportation projects. The key is to enable equitable risk allocations such that we can attract this private sector capital.
8. There is a growing need to scale up critical infrastructure, especially for transportation and urban development. According to the World Bank Group, one billion people around the world still live more than 2 kilometers away from an all-weather road2. This lack of access hinders economic growth, job creation and connection to essential services like healthcare and education3. Given the urgent need for investments into high-quality transportation networks and well-connected cities, we have focused this iteration of the course on accelerating the development of transportation and urban development infrastructure.
9. Over the 3 days of the course, industry experts and distinguished professors will discuss how to better prepare infrastructure projects. Discussions will focus on sound risk management, standardization of the process for delivering PPP projects, and overcoming operational PPP issues. The speakers will also introduce some technological and financial solutions from Singapore-based companies to boost private sector involvement in infrastructure projects.
Introducing InfraAsia and encouraging deeper engagements
10. To make the most out of the course, I would like to encourage all participants to share and discuss the challenges you face in your local context. This will allow your fellow participants and our faculty to learn from your experience. Through collaborative knowledge sharing, I believe that we would be able to contribute to the development of the infrastructure sector together. I look forward to your active contributions over the next two weeks.
11. Before I pass the time to Dr. Flocy, please allow me to say a few words about Infrastructure Asia. Infrastructure Asia is an infrastructure facilitation office set up by the Singapore government. We aim to catalyse project development, financing and execution opportunities. We contribute and assist in the region’s infrastructure development through several ways:
- Firstly, we provide high-level, early-stage project structuring advice to our partners. This is backed by our exposure to a wide variety of marginally bankable infrastructure projects across the region.
- Secondly, we connect our regional partners to best-fit solutions along the entire infrastructure project life cycle, by tapping on the rich ecosystem of local and international service providers based in Singapore.
- Thirdly, we collaborate with partners to conduct bespoke capacity-building programs that share sector best practices and uplift competencies in areas such as structuring PPPs. This enables our partners to better manage their infrastructure projects.
12. Growing Infrastructure Course is one of Infrastructure Asia’s key platforms to deepen our engagements with regional government counterparts like yourselves. Infrastructure Asia is very pleased to be the sponsor of this course.
Connecting regional demand-side players with Singapore-based solution providers
13. Infrastructure Asia would like to work with everyone to address challenges in scaling up infrastructure. We can support the region’s infrastructure development plans as we have strong partners like the World Bank Group, and I would like to urge you to reach out to us for further conversations. We would be very pleased to discuss your infrastructure priorities and to curate best-fit solutions to meet your needs.
14. I am confident that the course will be relevant and informative. I will see you again tonight at the Networking Reception and on the third day of the course, where I will be moderating a fireside chat with some industry leaders. With that, I wish all of you a fruitful course. Thank you.