SINGAPORE (June 1): Business activity and employment can be boosted through infrastructure projects in this period of economic uncertainty, said Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.

“Growing economies need reliable infrastructure to carry out essential functions even when assailed by external challenges. Infrastructure can reinvigorate business activity and employment as we speak to reopen our economies gradually,” she elaborated.

Indranee – who is also the second Minister for Finance and Education – was speaking at a virtual signing to kick off the “Growing Infrastructure Programme” between the Singapore Management University (SMU), World Bank Group and Infrastructure Asia – a government agency providing consultancy on regional infrastructure projects.

Called “Growing Infrastructure – Enabling and Structuring for Private Sector Participation in Finance and Innovation”, the programme serves to raise awareness on solutions for sustainable and resilient infrastructure development for the region’s long-term economic growth.

Under this, SMU will be the academic partner delivering the programme, particularly to senior and mid-level regional government officials involved in project preparation.

Meanwhile, the World Bank Group and Infrastructure Asia will tap on their experience on capacity building, and knowledge on private sector financing and structuring to cater to the needs of the region. This includes creating a regulatory environment that is friendly towards private sector involvement and public-private partnerships in Infrastructure, noted Indranee.

Speaking at the same event, Infrastructure Asia's Executive Director Seth Tan said, "We hope to support Asia's infrastructure development and at the same time, spread the word about Singapore-based solutions".

Jyoti Shukla, Director of World Bank Singapore chimed in noting that, “the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce the imperative of investing in well-designed infrastructure for sustained economic growth, with a unique opportunity to do so with greater sustainability and resilience”.

To this end, the first iteration will focus on clean energy, given heightened interest in the sector amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The projects will cover projects such as renewables, which face less disruption with shorter supply chains and modular components.

With international financial sources remaining available and keen to support such projects, Indranee stressed that the international private sector should continue their contributions to this sector.

“It is important that the region uses this time to continue to push forward on sustainability,” she added.