On Thursday, April 5, the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit will take place – the eighth time that the World Bank, the Government of Singapore, and the Financial Times are partnering to hold this annual event.
The Summit has gone from strength to strength each year, and helped pave the way for the many infrastructure-themed events across the reigon. This year, as Singapore’s chairing of ASEAN brings its ministerial meetings to the city-state, finance ministers from across Southeast Asia will join the Summit, and their presence underscores the importance they attach to sustainable infrastructure development.
Indeed, many pieces of the infrastructure development puzzle are coming together.
First, the institutional investors, long the key missing piece of the puzzle. After years of encouraging institutional investors to invest in infrastructure in developing countries, interest is accumulating. The IFC’s Managed Co-Lending Program, or MCPP, now has US$6 billion in its platforms, including from several insurance companies and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. This is a considerable achievement.
Second, the big picture ‘frame’ for the puzzle. Across our institutions, our Maximizing Finance for Development approach, or MFD, is taking shape. Conversations on collaboration with other multilateral development banks are progressing. At the country level, the pilot projects of the Infrastructure Assessment Program, or Infrasaps, in Vietnam and Indonesia, are nearing completion. Infrasaps in other countries are starting, and government responses have been positive.
Indeed, we at the Singapore Hub are encouraged that infrastructure investment and finance is now at the center of development planning, addressed with urgency by many of our partners in both the public and private sector. Few would argue that scarce public resources can be used more effectively, and should be used to leverage additional financing when feasible.
Our next step can be to strengthen our roster of practical and pragmatic solutions, and move from conversation to action.
We hope that the Infrastructure Finance Summit will take us closer to the steps we need to take to improve service delivery.
The World Bank Group is well represented at the Summit, with Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer Joaquim Levy featured in the keynote interview, and regional Vice Presidents for both World Bank and IFC, Victoria Kwakwa and Nena Stoiljkovic, are also speaking at the event.
Our goal is to focus the conversation not just on infrastructure finance, but also on ensuring that infrastructure services reach the last mile – in urban and rural areas – and help deliver inclusive growth.
That is why the participation of Indonesia’s Minister of Public Works and Housing, Basuki Hadimuljono is important to the Summit. Minister Basuki will highlight the country’s efforts to deliver inclusive infrastructure, including through its slum upgrading program.
Indeed, public private partnerships to reach the last mile connectivity are a critical piece of the puzzle – and for sustainable and inclusive growth in the region.
Another important piece of the infrastructure development puzzle is Singapore.
Why Singapore? Because the island nation’s investments in infrastructure are considered best practice for sustainable and inclusive infrastructure development.
As the country positions itself as Asia’s Infrastructure Exchange, the region if not the world should pay attention, as few places in the world offer such a strong ‘ecosystem’ for infrastructure investments – one that integrates players along the whole value chain: multilateral banks, institutional investors, private financiers, lawyers, accountants, and engineers.
When Thursday’s event opens, these pieces of the puzzle will be more apparent for the audience, comprised of members of Singapore’s ecosystem.
While the conversation with the finance ministers are highly anticipated, I am also excited to hear the views of the leaders of DBS Bank, Standard Chartered, SMBC, Clifford Capital, Maybank, and Moody’s. They may not hold all the missing pieces of the infrastructure development puzzle, but their voices – at the Summit and hopefully at subsequent conversations about operationalizing MFD – help fill in the gaps.
For the latest program agenda and an opportunity to join the event through the livestream, please visit: https://live.ft.com/Events/2018/World-Bank-Singapore-Infrastructure-Finance-Summit