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Keynote Address By Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister In The Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister For Finance And National Development, Drew & Napier Projects & Infrastructure Symposium

04 Aug 2022

Mr Jimmy Yim, SC, Chairman, Drew & Napier LLC

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,


  1. It is such a great pleasure to be here, to be around former colleagues and friends, and also have the opportunity to make new ones when we interact later. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all the professionals and participants from overseas who have travelled to Singapore to attend this Symposium, and also of course, those who are attending virtually from online.
  2. I would like to commend Drew & Napier for organising this timely event, which comes on the heels of the World Cities Summit and Asia Infrastructure Forum, which were hosted at this very same venue this week. This symposium is an excellent platform for lawyers and industry experts to exchange ideas, and share trends and challenges faced in the development of infrastructure in the Southeast Asia region.

    Trends influencing infrastructure development

  3. Evolving urbanisation trends will influence future infrastructure developments. The global urban population is expected to grow to around 6.3 billion by 2050 and comprise 70% of the total projected global population in that year. Infrastructure developments must address the needs of these rapidly growing city populations.
  4. Southeast Asia is particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, given the threat that low-lying coasts face with rising sea levels – Singapore is no exception. As countries intensify their responses towards climate change, how infrastructure is developed and then consequently operated will change. Capital is flowing into sustainable infrastructure projects at a rapid rate, with US$ 272 billion in sustainable infrastructure projects announced in 2020 alone.
  5. In the aftermath of the pandemic and in the face of climate change and growing populations that will put pressure on land, the environment and resources, it is clear that we must build sustainably for the future.

    Singapore’s Comprehensive Infrastructure Ecosystem

  6. Today I would like to share with you how Singapore is positioning itself to help achieve that goal, and how you as professionals and experts can be part of this and leverage what we have to offer to bring your skills and expertise to bear in this global effort for a greener, more sustainable world.
  7. Southeast Asia is the new growth frontier with a growing, young working population, a rising middle class and a multitude of economic opportunities.
  8. High quality sustainable infrastructure is needed in order for this growth to achieve its full potential.
    • The region needs transport and logistics infrastructure to facilitate greater movement of goods, services, labour, and capital.
    • It needs digital infrastructure to enable a digital economy and e-commerce.
    • It needs housing infrastructure to meet the demand for homes.
    • It needs health infrastructure to cope with ageing populations and future pandemics.
    • It also needs infrastructure for water, waste, energy, to meet living needs and power cities. The list goes on.
  9. In order for all this to happen, it will need proper structuring, financing, and de-risking. In some cases, disputes will need resolving, in others re-structuring and in yet others securitizing. This is where Singapore and all of you come in.
  10. Singapore has several advantages and a comprehensive ecosystem to help enable Asia’s infrastructure needs.
  11. First, our location and connectivity at the very heart of Asia – with a seven-hour flight radius to most Asian markets and over 6,800 weekly flights to over 80 countries around the world, and little or no time difference between Singapore and most Asian markets – that makes Singapore a natural location from which to coordinate projects.
  12. Second, Singapore is home to a whole ecosystem of infrastructure players, from financiers (ranging from MDBs to private funds and institutions). The World Bank has its hub here, and Asian Development Bank has set up its private sector operations here, so the MDBs are here and easy to access and within reach. We also have developers, technical experts and professional services including advisory, legal, architectural, engineering, and ESG, to name just a few. This aggregation of infrastructure expertise in one place makes it that much easier to put together and facilitate infrastructure. You do not have to go to different places; they are all here and it is very easy to be able to access the people and expertise that you need.
  13. Third, our position as a financial hub in which there is rich expertise in financing complex projects. Singapore serves as the regional base for project finance teams of many global financial institutions (including banks, fund managers and insurers) with project finance lending and advisory specialisation.  Singapore also has strong ties with multilateral banks like World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank, working with them with the aim to provide financing for more bankable projects. Our collaborations include:
    • The Global Infrastructure Facility, a global, open platform that facilitates the preparation and structuring of complex infrastructure public-private partnerships to enable the mobilization of capital; and
    • The Asia Infrastructure Centre of Excellence, a joint initiative of Enterprise Singapore and the Asian Development Bank.
  14. It is not that there is no money available for projects; there is a lot of money available and we are all looking for projects. The problem is projects are not bankable. If they are not bankable, investors are not going to put money in.
    • Right now, a lot of the public funds have been stretched because of the pandemic; they have been diverted towards relieving the health and economic crises. You have a demand for infrastructure, and you have public funds that have been tied up – that means that the next door is private funding. Private funding will not come in unless they are assured in terms of risk and revenue, getting back their investment.
    • This is where all of you come in, because all of you have the expertise to do the proper structuring, legal consultancy, engineering, in order to make the project bankable. It is only when the project is bankable that investments will start flowing in.
    • Singapore is a hub which aggregates all of this, and I want to encourage you to take advantage of our hub status and networking and connections to be able to access these opportunities, so that you can structure the projects to become bankable and get off the ground.
  15. Anyone who has been involved in infrastructure projects knows that inevitably issues will arise and sometimes the project can run into problems and disputes.
    • Singapore offers a comprehensive suite of commercial dispute resolution services through our flagship international dispute resolution institutions, namely the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC), and the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC).
    • Additionally, Singapore is also a hub for debt restructuring. We provide businesses in the region with a convenient base which combines efficiency, expertise, and a clear and certain legal framework, from which they can coordinate a multi-jurisdictional restructuring, should the need arise.

    Singapore’s commitment towards sustainability as the way forward

  16. Singapore tries very hard to always look towards the future. We now have Forward GSG, which is an exercise led by the 4G leaders to examine Singapore’s values and aspiration and build consensus on the way forward, reviewing and refreshing our social compact. Through this exercise, the 4G team will be envisioning Singapore’s future, together with Singaporeans, on what should be prioritised and how to get there. The process also involves engaging Singaporeans and the wider public to understand their concerns and to explore the trade-offs.
  17. The exercise will be organised along six pillars. Let me highlight two pillars which are relevant to today’s topic. That is the ‘build’ pillar and the ‘steward’ pillar.
    • ‘Build’ is really about the built environment, construction and infrastructure, and how the city is going to look in the next 50 years.
    •  ‘Steward’ is about stewardship – how we are going to finance this, how we are going to look at land, space, greenery and how we are going to have a sustainable future. The underlying thinking is that whatever we do, it must not be just for the here and now, and not just to benefit this generation, but generations to come. In many ways, we are planning not just for ourselves, but for the yet unborn, because we feel that we have a responsibility to them as well.
    • The ‘build’ pillar will be focused on transforming our living environment, to build a more liveable home for all who stake their futures here. The ‘steward’ pillar will focus on fostering a more sustainable way of life that stewards our resources responsibly for future generations, looking towards both environmental as well as fiscal sustainability.
  18. For sustainable infrastructure to happen, you need the right regulatory environment. From a regulatory perspective, SGX RegCo is setting up an ESGenome disclosure portal which will make companies’ climate disclosures available to investors. From next year, climate reporting will be compulsory for the most carbon-intensive industries.
  19. To this end, Singapore has focused on various aspects of sustainable infrastructure. On the transport front, Singapore Land Transport Master Plan 2040 demonstrates Singapore’s focus on creating more sustainable transport infrastructure.
  20. Singapore has also launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a national sustainability movement which seeks to rally bold and collective action to tackle climate change.
  21. The Green Plan charts ambitious and concrete targets over the next few years, strengthening Singapore’s commitments under the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement, and positioning us to achieve our long-term net zero emissions aspiration as soon as viable, around mid-century.
  22. In line with the Forward SG pillars, the Singapore Green Plan details concrete goals to work towards for sustainable living. These include targets in reducing the amount of waste to our landfills, green commuting targets, as well as strengthening green efforts in schools. The plan also looks towards being greener, looking to have 80% of new buildings be Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings by 2030, reducing energy consumption in existing HDB towns, amongst many other goals. We will also be building HDB green towns.

    Financing Sustainable Infrastructure

  23. As part of our commitments towards building sustainable infrastructure, we recognise that green finance can truly be a catalyst for sustainability. Our public sector will be issuing up to S$35 billion worth of green bonds to fund sustainable infrastructure projects by 2030. 
  24. The Ministry of Finance recently published a National Green Bond Framework, which lays the foundation for the issuance of these green bonds by the Government under the Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act 2021 (“SINGA”) and serves as a reference for Statutory Boards’ respective green frameworks.
  25. To help further catalyse green infrastructure, MAS is also supporting corporates, globally and in Asia, to access green financing to invest in green and transition projects, equipment, and move to more sustainable business models, through the Sustainable Bond Grant Scheme and Green and Sustainability-linked Loan Grant Scheme.  These grant schemes seek to reduce the barriers of entry, by defraying the additional costs incurred in conducting external reviews aligned with internationally-recognised principles.
  26. The Singapore government has primarily focused its financial support for renewables on improving energy or resource efficiency. In October 2021, the Singapore government awarded S$55 million to support 12 projects on low-carbon energy technology solutions.
  27. The government has also introduced the Energy Efficiency Fund (E2F), which supports manufacturing companies in upgrading their equipment ahead of the carbon tax increase. As of April 2022, the maximum grant support has been raised from 50% to 70% of qualifying costs.
  28. In the private sector, developers and financiers proactively sought to introduce sustainable financing into infrastructure projects. Singaporean developer City Developments Limited (CDL) introduced Singapore’s first green bond to finance the retrofitting of Republic Plaza to improve energy efficiency. Singapore-headquartered DBS Bank also introduced a green bond framework in recent years.

    Infrastructure Asia: Putting the ecosystem together & Sourcing for Regional Projects   

  29. To further support infrastructure financing and development in the region, Infrastructure Asia (InfraAsia) was established by Enterprise Singapore and Monetary Authority of Singapore.
    • InfraAsia is a project facilitation office that seeks to connect infrastructure supply and demand and the right stakeholders with each other.
    • What InfraAsia does is it enables good-fit solutions from companies and institutions based in Singapore in addressable infrastructure sub-segments in Asia.
    • It also helps to catalyse project development, financing and execution opportunities to meet the region’s growing needs, by bringing together industry stakeholders across the infrastructure value chain, from financiers to solution providers, to explore project opportunities in the region and facilitate the access of private capital into projects.
    • Beyond forming connections, InfraAsia also works with regional governments on capacity building and develops initiatives to enable financing and bankability of projects.
  30. One of InfraAsia’s key initiatives is the Standardised Core Project Finance Loan Documents, which standardises 50 per cent of the terms in project finance documents. The remaining clauses will remain customisable to cater to specific project needs. The reason why we do this is one of the constant feedback we were getting, especially from banks and financial institutions, was that it was difficult to get a project financed because there was no standard contract. By reducing the time and cost spent on negotiating contracts, this initiative aims to expedite projects and narrow the infrastructure investment gap in the region. I would like to encourage all of you today to work together with your partners and clients to adopt these Standardised Core Project Finance Loan Documents.
  31. Just two days ago, at the Asia Infrastructure Forum 2022, I launched the Infrastructure Asia Project Portal. 
  32. The Portal will serve as a virtual marketplace to improve the visibility of the region’s infrastructure project pipeline and connect projects with best fit solutions and investors.
  33. The portal will identify specific needs of these projects and connect them with over 600 pre-curated solution providers to catalyse the implementation and scaling up of their sustainable infrastructure. It will connect various players in the value chain to each other, including professional services providers – such as lawyers, accountants and consultants.
  34. Infrastructure Asia has also introduced a new component in the Asia Infrastructure Forum – the Marketplace. At the Marketplace, regional governments can highlight their requirements and challenges in implementing infrastructure projects. In turn, we will also see industry leaders, financiers, developers and entrepreneurs pitch their projects, technologies and solutions on this vibrant and interactive platform

    Other efforts toward sustainability

  35. On the renewable energy front, Singapore has been capitalizing on being one of the most solar-dense cities in the world. In July 2021, Singapore unveiled the completion of one of the world’s largest solar farms, spanning the size of 45 football fields and comprising 122,000 solar panels on the surface of Tengeh Reservoir. Such implementation of solar photovoltaic systems in reservoirs and seas is Singapore’s innovative solution to the lack of land area.
  36. Finally, sustainable infrastructure is an area where professionals across different sectors can benefit from cross-disciplinary learning and collaboration. We will be initiating engagements with various professional services including lawyers, consultants and engineers to hear your feedback on how the Government can facilitate capability development and knowledge sharing.


  37. It is evident that sustainable infrastructure will be the hot topic for the years to come. As Singapore builds itself as a hub for sustainability and sustainable infrastructure, there is tremendous opportunity for lawyers and other professionals to join this journey and actively work on growing their capabilities in these areas.
  38. I wish you all a fruitful experience at the symposium, as you learn from each other and exchange ideas and share about the development of energy projects.
  39. Thank you all very much.