Building a ‘Smart Nation’ in Singapore doesn't come cheap

Building a ‘Smart Nation’ in Singapore doesn't come cheap

12/07/17, 07:54 am

SINGAPORE (July 12): Schooling isn't cheap in Singapore: not just for citizens, but for the government too.

The city state boasts one of the best education systems in the world and as the government tries to transform the economy into a high-tech hub — part of its "Smart Nation" programme — it’s putting heavy emphasis on equipping students with skills for a digital economy.

Government spending on education has doubled since 2005 to $12.9 billion this year, or 17% of its total budget. That’s not only to pay for teachers and better infrastructure, but also subsidies for Singaporean students.

The city state is the third most-expensive place in the world to educate a child — trailing only Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Parents budget US$70,939 ($98,000) for schooling from primary through tertiary level, according to a survey by HSBC Holdings Plc published in June. 

But for Singaporean families, the government foots most of the education bill. If you’re a local, it'll cost you about $123 a month for a child at primary school, while a foreigner pays as much as $563.

The government currently subsidizes 435,100 students enrolled in primary through secondary schools and is projected to assist 80,100 who are doing undergraduate and postgraduate studies this year.

“Government expenditure is likely to continue to hold firm if not increase over time," said Selena Ling, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. While families are probably spending more of their budgets on schooling as costs increase, overall expenditure is still small compared to other “big ticket” items, like housing and food, she said.

The latest consumer price data shows education costs rose 3.2% in May from a year ago, more than double the rate of inflation.

The Ministry of Education said rising education costs are due to improvements in the quality of teaching, upgraded infrastructure and curriculum enhancements. At universities, coursed have been adjusted to better prepare students with computer-related skills — enrollment spaces for technology-related programs have been increased and new courses have been introduced, the ministry said in an email.

“Increased government expenditure on education would likely have a positive impact on the Singapore economy in the long run," said Kelvin Seah, an economics lecturer at the National University of Singapore. “These initiatives are meant to increase the human capital of individuals and increase worker productivity.”

Lendlease a step closer to listing of mall REIT on SGX: reports

SINGAPORE (May 23): Australia’s Lendlease could potentially be the next REIT to list in Singapore, following the footsteps of two recent US REITs. According to The Australian, Lendlease has appointed investment banks Citigroup and DBS to handle the listing. The Singapore trust, to be named Lendlease Global Commercial REIT, could be seeded with shopping centre assets worth A$1 billion ($948 million). Listed on the Australia stock exchange (ASX), Lendlease is a integrated construction, engineering and property company. Singaporeans may also be familiar with Lendlease given the comp....

China defence minister to attend summit amid rising US tension

(May 22): Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe will address top diplomats at an upcoming summit in Singapore in a speech that could be pivotal amid rising tensions between the US and China. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) announced the late addition Monday to a roster of ranking officials that includes US Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan attending the three-day IISS Shangri-La Dialogue from May 31. Wei is scheduled to deliver a speech on China’s place in the Indo-Pacific region on the final day of the conference and will take questions afterwards, wh....

SingHaiyi reports 48% rise in 4Q earnings to $9.7 mil on higher margins from US development

SINGAPORE (May 22): Property developer SingHaiyi Group reported a 47.6% rise in 4Q19 earnings to $9.7 million from a year ago, bringing FY19 earnings to $22.6 million, 20.3% lower than a year ago. 4Q19 revenue declined 67.6% to $9.8 million from a year ago mainly due to the decrease in revenue recognised for the group’s completed Executive Condominium project, The Vales, and the group’s completed private condominium, City Suites. The lower topline was partially offset by the sales of the group’s completed commercial condominium project in the United States – Vietnam Town Phase II....