Singaporean Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat delivers a speech at the 8th World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit (Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)
 
Singapore (VNA) - Infrastructure development projects in Southeast Asia will create significant financing needs and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must do more to attract private capital to plug the gap, said Singaporean Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat. 

In a keynote speech delivered at the 8th World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit on April 5, Heng said these infrastructure development opportunities come as member states strive towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2025 vision, which has infrastructure linkages as one of its primary goals, and amid rapid urbanisation within the region. 

Citing figures from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the minister said Southeast Asia’s infrastructure investment needs will total 2.8 trillion USD between 2016 and 2030, or about 184 billion USD annually. 

Heng noted that much of the responsibility for infrastructure spending has traditionally fallen on the shoulders of the governments. While ASEAN must continue to prioritise infrastructure spending to sustain growth, it needs to look beyond the public sector to finance these expenditures, he added.

While there have been successful examples of ASEAN members tapping the private capital market for infrastructure financing, more of such collaboration can be fostered in three ways: increasing visibility, improving bankability and enhancing data availability of investment opportunities and projects in the region, the minister suggested.

On its own, Singapore has set up an Infrastructure Office called Infrastructure Asia, and is allowing its statutory boards and government-owned companies to explore issuing bonds to finance infrastructure building, Heng said.

Sharing the view, ASEAN ministers emphasised the importance of mobilising private resources, along with public investment and foreign funding, for essential infrastructure development projects.

They also stressed the need to build a favourable legal framework and a clear policy for private investors to pour investments into infrastructure projects.

According to Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha, the Government of Vietnam is committed to maintaining a stable investment environment and creating an optimal legal corridor for infrastructure developers by revising and supplementing a decree on build-operate-transfer (BOT) and public-private partnership (PPP) forms.-VNA