SINGAPORE, September 6, 2011 – World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam today signed an agreement marking a new partnership to offer development solutions around the globe.
The agreement allows the World Bank Group to leverage Singapore’s development expertise with Singapore becoming the site of a new World Bank Group-Singapore hub for knowledge and financial activities for Asia and beyond.
The expansion builds on the successful experience of the World Bank-Singapore Urban-Hub and Infrastructure Center of Excellence (IFCOE) – a strategic partnership for integrated urban development and infrastructure financing solutions.
“Singapore has been a real world practitioner of a dynamic approach to development,” Zoellick said. “Singapore’s relentless spirit of policy and economic innovation keeps the country at the cutting edge of thinking about the next generation of challenges. This partnership will leverage the experience of Singapore and also the full spectrum of the World Bank Group’s knowledge and financial services, making it the first combined World Bank Group office of its kind outside Washington.”
“Providing for high quality, high density living and organizing cities so as to allow for economic innovation and growth is a key challenge in the developing world. The World Bank Group has been playing an active role in this regard, engaging all stakeholders along the infrastructure value chain to develop new development and funding solutions,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
The signing agreement was one of the highlights of the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Summit 2011, an annual event organized by the World Bank, the Singapore Ministry of Finance, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in association with the Financial Times and the World Bank-ASEAN Infrastructure Finance Network, with support from the Australian aid agency, AusAID.
The Summit provides a forum for leading policy-makers, investors, contractors and strategists to debate and generate innovative public-private solutions to fund and implement key infrastructure projects.
The role of the region’s still underdeveloped capital markets in infrastructure financing, and in particular the creation of an effective municipal bond market in Asia, was a major focus of discussion at the Summit, attended by more than 300 high level government officials and private sector representatives from East Asia and beyond.
The World Bank Group’s agreement with Singapore will increase the focus on solutions to address urban development challenges, infrastructure financing, information communications technology and accounting and auditing services. The expanded World Bank Group presence includes the IFC (International Finance Corporation) – the largest provider of multilateral financing for the private sector in developing countries—and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) –the Bank Group’s agency which provides political risk insurance.
The Singapore office will increase to a staff of about 70.
The World Bank Urban Hub and Infrastructure Finance Center of Excellence are already supporting innovative projects across the region, including the securitization of future toll road revenues in China, public-private partnership in water supply and treatment in Indonesia, and urban transportation planning in Vietnam.
IFC will draw on Singapore’s strong private sector experience to support the scale-up of critical infrastructure projects in developing Asia and will seek to partner with Singapore-based firms to invest in emerging markets around the world.
MIGA views Singapore as a center for insurance and looks forward to working more closely with the government as well as public and private sector entities to share knowledge and experience. The agency’s scaled-up presence will assist Asian investors to facilitate their plans for inbound and outbound investments.
In the areas of finance, the Bank’s Treasury Department will manage, from Singapore, the Reserves Advisory and Management Program that provides capacity building and investment services to member country central banks, national pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. A newly established Center of Excellence on Accounting and Auditing will deliver technical advice and expertise on institutional strengthening, systems development, and capacity to developing countries in the region.
The Office of the World Bank’s Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific, Bert Hofman, will also move from Washington DC to the Singapore Office to bring the best possible knowledge on development issues and challenges closer to the Region. Hofman will also serve as Director of the World Bank’s Singapore Office.
Tunde Onitiri will lead IFC’s team and Kevin Lu will head up MIGA.
World Bank infrastructure lending for the fiscal year 2011, ending June 30, was $24 billion divided among - energy, transport, water and information and computer technology.