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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Singapore to spend up to S$20b on infrastructure this year

SINGAPORE: Singapore, expected to be emerging Asia's worst hit economy this year, plans to spend between S$18 billion and S$20 billion (S$1 = RM2.41) on infrastructure projects in 2009, a government minister said yesterday.

In 2010 and 2011, the government would continue to invest another S$15 to S$17 billion each year in building and infrastructure projects, Grace Fu Hai Yien, Senior Minister of state for National Development, told a seminar on Asia infrastructure.

Fu said the 2009 spending included construction of a new cruise liner terminal, new roads and parks, and the upgrading of schools, sports facilities and public housing estates.

"Here in Singapore, we are taking the opportunity of this downturn to build our own 'highways' to prepare for the next phase of Asia-centric growth. And upgrading of our infrastructure is a key part of this growth strategy," Fu said.

"Our financial resources allow us to undertake the projects at the appropriate time despite the negative economic outlook." Fu did not say how these projects would be funded.

In January Singapore for the first time tapped government reserves to pay for part of a S$20.5 billion budget stimulus package, which included S$4.4 billion on infrastructure, education and health, as well as other measures to help firms.

Singapore's economy could shrink by 4.9 per cent this year, its worst year ever, hit by a downturn in trade, a Reuters poll of economists showed earlier this month. Some economists have since revised estimates downwards, with Goldman Sachs expecting an 8 per cent contraction.

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's most powerful politician, was quoted as saying on Friday its export-dependent economy would take at least three years to recover from the recession.

By Reuters

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