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Five lessons in infrastructure pricing from East Asia and Pacific

Melania Lotti's picture
Photo: © Dini Sari Djalal/World Bank

In the infrastructure domain, “price” is a prism with many façades.
 
An infrastructure economist sees price in graphic terms: the coordinates of a point where demand and supply curves intersect.
 
For governments, price relates to budget lines, as part of public spending to develop infrastructure networks.
 
Utility managers view price as a decision: the amount to charge for each unit of service in order to recover the costs of production and (possibly) earn a profit.
 
But for most people, price comes with simple question: how much is the tariff I have to pay for the service, and can I afford it?

Breaking new ground: growing the digital economy through cyber risk reinsurance PPPs in EMDEs

Jinsuk Park's picture


Photo: ItNeverEnds | Pixabay Creative Commons

The digital economy has emerged as a key driver of growth and development across the world. According to Huawei and Oxford Economics, it accounted for 15.5% of global GDP in 2016 and this share is expected to increase to 24.3% by the year 2020—growing 2.5 times higher than the overall growth of the global economy.

However, along with rapidly increasing digitization, we are witnessing an exponential increase in cyber risks. These have potentially huge financial impacts that could place entire economies and societies in jeopardy. Such threats now typically include privacy breaches, cyber fraud, denial-of-service attacks, and cyber extortion. There are many examples just within the last few years. For instance, a cyber attack on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 caused serious power outages, and in 2016, the Central Bank of Bangladesh lost $81 million in a cyber heist. That same year, more than 3.1 billion records were leaked globally.

While traditional approaches such as establishing computer emergency response teams and national cyber security agencies are important, there is a need to engage more actively with both public and private entities through new institutional structures, new technologies, and new business models. Cyber risk insurance is one tool that can help address these challenges.

Behold the White Knights! New research on institutional investor participation in financing EMDE infrastructure

Abha Joshi-Ghani's picture


Photo: Grzegorz Zdanowski / Pexels Creative Commons

Some regard institutional investors—with their deep pockets—as the white knights filling the huge investment gaps in infrastructure development in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). The IMF estimates that some 100 trillion dollars are held by pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, mutual funds, and other institutional investors. Unquestionably, the long-term nature of their liabilities matches the long-term financing requirements of infrastructure projects. So, it’s no surprise that institutional investors are seen as the white knights of infrastructure finance.

To unlock student potential in East Asia Pacific, be demanding and supportive of teachers

Michael Crawford's picture

Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong (China) consistently among the best. 

But, more significantly, one also finds that great performance is not limited to school systems in the region’s high-income countries. School systems in middle-income Vietnam and China (specifically the provinces of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong) score better than the average OECD country, despite having much lower GDP per capita. What is more, scores from both China and Vietnam show that poor students are not being left behind. Students from the second-lowest income quintile score better than the average OECD student, and even the very poorest test takers outscore students from some wealthy countries. As the graph below shows, however, other countries in the region have yet to achieve similar results.

Yin Yin Lam - 10 candid career questions with infrastructure & PPP professionals

Yin Yin Lam's picture



Welcome to the “
10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the infrastructure and PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into infra and/or PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 15 questions and answers 10 or more that tell their career story candidly and without jargon. We believe you’ll be as surprised and inspired as we were.  

How do city leaders get things done? Learning from mayors in Japan

Sameh Wahba's picture
Also available in: Español | 日本語 
Picture of the Competitive Cities Technical Deep Dive participants enjoying a walk through the Minato Mirai 21 area (with the Cosmo Clock in the background), which aims to concentrate high-value added activities and a high quality of life in an integrated urban core in downtown Yokohama. Photo Credit: TDLC
The task of mayors and city leaders is no longer limited to providing efficient urban services to their citizens. Job creation is at the forefront of the economic development challenge globally.

Cities need jobs and opportunities for their citizens and the means to generate tax revenues to fund projects that meet their populations’ growing demand for basic services. The WBG flagship report on Competitive Cities outlines how creating jobs in urban areas – urgently but also at scale– is essential.
 
In November, 2017, we spent a week with approximately 30 city and national government officials and policymakers from several countries, including Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda. These leaders represented diverse cities across the world, all with a common objective – how to make their cities and regions more competitive?

Many were dealing with a fragmented institutional landscape, often with overlapping jurisdictions – necessitating clarity of institutional circuits and processes. Some struggled to coordinate economic development strategies with private sector. Lack of adequate sub-national socio-economic data to drive evidence-based policy making compounded issues. City leaders are not looking for a lesson in theory – but evidence of what works and what doesn’t, and practical, implementable examples of how to get things done.
 
We spent the week as part of a Technical Deep Dive, studying and living the experience of two exceptional Japanese cities - Yokohama and Kobe. These cities have dealt with:
  • population influx,
  • industrialized at a rapid pace,
  • responded to environmental challenges,
  • reached the technological frontier,
  • undergone a housing bubble,
  • and even went through a major disaster (the Kobe earthquake) and recovered from it.

“But what about Singapore?” Lessons from the best public housing program in the world

Abhas Jha's picture
Also available in: Mongolian | Chinese
 
Photo of Singapore by Lois Goh / World Bank

 
As we approach the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur next week, one of the essential challenges in implementing the New Urban Agenda that governments are struggling with is the provision at scale of high quality affordable housing, a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 of building sustainable cities and communities.
 
When I worked on affordable housing in Latin America, one consistent piece of advice we would give our clients was that it is not a good idea for governments to build and provide housing themselves. Instead, in the words of the famous (and sadly late) World Bank economist Steve Mayo, we should enable housing markets to work. Our clients would always respond by saying, “But what about Singapore?” And we would say the Singapore case is too sui generis and non-replicable.

[Learn more about the World Bank's participation in the World Urban Forum]
 
Now, having lived in the beautiful red-dot city state for two and half years, and seeing up close the experience of public housing in Singapore, one is struck by elements of the Singapore housing experience that are striking for its foresight and, yes, its replicability!
 
Singapore’s governing philosophy has famously been described as “think ahead, think again and think across.” Nowhere is this more apparent than how the founding fathers designed the national housing program, and how it has adapted and evolved over the years, responding to changed circumstances and needs.

It is hard to believe today but in 1947 the British Housing Committee reported that 72% of a total population of 938,000 of Singapore was living within the 80 square kilometers that made up the central city area. When Singapore attained self-government in 1959, only 9% of Singaporeans resided in public housing. Today, 80% of Singaporeans live a government built apartment. There are about one million Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments, largely clustered in 23 self-contained new towns that extend around the city’s coastal core.
 
How has Singapore succeeded where so many other countries have failed dismally? At the risk of over-simplification, there seem to be four essential ingredients to this astonishing success story:

E-justice: does electronic court reporting improve court performance?

Georgia Harley's picture


More and more courts are going digital. But does this improve judicial performance?
 
Legal literature on ‘e-justice’ seems to think so. So too does the World Development Report, ‘Digital Dividends,’ which highlights the potential for ICT to improve the transparency and quality of government service delivery.
 
As electronic court reporting is one key aspect of this trend, we want to take the opportunity to look at the pros and cons of improving judicial performance in different contexts.

GICA: Connecting the dots on global infrastructure connectivity

Kara Watkins's picture


The term “connectivity” is familiar to most of us, even if we don’t think about it much. When we bemoan the shortcomings of the mobile network in our neighborhood or thank the barista for the free and unexpectedly fast WIFI at our favorite coffee bar, we’re acknowledging the place connectivity has in our lives.
 
But connectivity also plays a larger, global role—one that links communities, economies, and countries through transport, trade, communications, energy, and water networks. In this broader form, it’s known as global infrastructure connectivity, and it boasts a special super power: the ability to catalyze infrastructure development.


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