Remarks by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Education, at the Opening Session of the AIIB Annual Meeting on 12 July 201915 Jul 2019
Your Royal Highness Grand Duke
Distinguished Governors and Board of Directors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. I would like to thank the Government of Luxembourg, and AIIB, and congratulate them for the hospitality and excellent arrangements for this morning’s event.
2. Infrastructure is a critical economic and social enabler that, if done well, can enable a virtuous cycle of growth.
a. Singapore welcomes this year’s theme – “Cooperation and Connectivity”.
b. It is timely for us to look at ways to:
i. Deepen integration;
ii. So as to facilitate trade and investment flows;
iii. Thereby, connecting and bringing prosperity to all our peoples in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
3. Since its establishment, the AIIB has contributed substantively to regional infrastructure development.
a. But there is more that we can and must do together, since Asia’s population is not only growing, but also rapidly urbanising.
b. This means that our demand for sustainable infrastructure will continue to grow.
c. It is therefore crucial that we foster a conducive environment to support the development of good infrastructure projects. The recent G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment is a good starting point.
d. As the Bank enters its next phase of growth, it must continue to strengthen its role not only as a financier, but also as a knowledge institution for stakeholders along the infrastructure value chain.
4. It could do so in the following ways:
a. First, strengthening engagement with its peers.
i. We commend the AIIB’s efforts in collaborating with other multilateral development institutions, such as the signing of a co-financing framework agreement with the World Bank and a Memorandum of Understanding for Strengthening Cooperation with the Asian Development Bank.
ii. We encourage more of such cooperation. They are key to addressing development challenges, including to promote good governance and other best practices throughout the lifecycle of infrastructure projects.
b. Second, by working with governments more systematically.
i. The AIIB should continue working with governments in an open, inclusive manner, through regional initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the Tri-lateral Partnership for Infrastructure Investment in the Indo-Pacific.
ii. The Bank can lead the way for building effective country platforms which the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance recommended and is being implemented.
a) Through strong country ownership and partnership with the Bank, the AIIB can help:
1) Ensure that invested projects are aligned with national priorities;
2) Encourage the adoption of core standards for projects; and
3) Maximise development impact across various development partners.
c. Third, by mobilising the private sector more effectively.
i. Asia’s infrastructure needs are huge, and cannot be met by public funds alone. Private sector capital must be mobilised if we are to bridge the infrastructure financing gap.
a) The AIIB recognises this, and has developed its Strategy for Mobilising Private Capital for Infrastructure.
b) We commend the Bank’s participation in non-sovereign projects, as well as its steady progress to originate, structure and execute standalone non-sovereign deals.
ii. It is not just capital. The private sector also has a vast range of professional expertise, including in dispute resolution.
a) There is value in tapping on such expertise. To this end, Singapore has recently introduced the Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol, or the SIDP.
b) It seeks to establish a panel of professional experts, which could include lawyers, engineers and financiers, who provide advice to resolve infrastructure disputes at an early stage without parties having to go through lengthy arbitration or litigation processes or at least if they do, having the issues crystallised, thereby reducing cost and time.
c) We will encourage the AIIB to adopt the SIDP in relevant projects.
5. We have also in Singapore developed arbitration, litigation and now mediation. Next month, the International Convention on Mediation will be signed in Singapore, that is effectively the mediation equivalent of the New York Convention for Arbitration, so we would encourage members to look at the mediation convention as an additional means of resolving disputes.
6. Singapore, as an infrastructure hub in Asia with an extensive ecosystem to support infrastructure, stands ready to support the AIIB in its important agenda.
a. We are committed to working through Infrastructure Asia, as a platform to connect local and international stakeholders across the value chain, encourage information exchange, facilitate infrastructure investments, and enable infrastructure players in the region to tap on these opportunities.
7. Thank you very much.