Friday, July 27, 2012

Massive move to boost S'pore infrastructure


Business Times: Fri, Jul 27

[SINGAPORE] The government plans to ramp up infrastructure in Singapore over the next decade to meet the needs of population growth here in recent years, even though the inflow of immigrants has fallen since 2009.

Population growth in recent years has outpaced infrastructure capacity, a paper released by the government yesterday noted. Published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), the paper notes the need to build infrastructure in a timely manner. A major effort over the next 5-10 years will seek to meet the demand for housing, transport and public services.

The rail network will be doubled in Singapore, from 138km in 2008 to 280km in the next 10 years. One new segment of the MRT network will open every year to from now to 2017. This will ensure that more than 400,000 housing units on the island will be within 400 metres of a rapid transit system station, more than double that today.

More than 800 new buses will be rolled out over the next five years, which will raise the current bus capacity by 20 per cent. Some $4.7 billion has been allocated in fiscal year 2012 to enhance the public transport infrastructure in Singapore. In all, the government has committed to spend about $60 billion to double the Singapore MRT network from what it was in 2008, and to increase the capacity of existing rail lines, the expenditure overview stated.

The HDB will add 25,000 new flats to the market in 2012, while the supply of executive condominiums and private housing sites has also been expanded. Efforts will be taken to improve the living environment in HDB estates, the paper said. A total budget of $2.5 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of National Development (MND) this fiscal year to achieve these goals.

More nursing homes and hospitals will also be built. These include the new Ng Teng Fong Hospital, as well as the Integrated Building for Changi General Hospital and St Andrew's Community Hospital, all of which are slated to open in 2014, while the completion of the Sengkang General Hospital has been brought forward by two years from 2020 to 2018.

Two new community hospitals in Jurong and Yishun, to be co-located with the new Ng Teng Fong Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital respectively, are to open by 2015, while a third community hospital to be co-located with Sengkang General Hospital is slated to be completed by 2018.

"We have met with close to 200 people from different stakeholder groups, including those from the community sector, students, businesses and unions. They have given us valuable inputs," an NPTD spokesperson said.

NPTD is seeking views on whether the government should further cut the inflow of immigrants into Singapore, even if it means that the citizen population here will age and shrink.

Singapore had 3.27 million Singapore citizens (SCs), and 0.54 million permanent residents (PRs), as at December 2011, making for a resident population of 3.81 million. The Republic also had a non-resident population of 1.46 million who are working, studying or living in the country on a non-permanent basis to bring its total population to 5.26 million as at that date.

Of the non-resident population, 21 per cent are family members of Singapore residents or employment pass holders, and international students, holding either dependant's or long-term visit passes. Also, about 40 per cent of citizen marriages in recent years were to non-citizen spouses. Foreigners married to Singaporeans are usually issued with a long-term visit pass, and many eventually naturalise as PRs and SCs.

Fourteen per cent of the non-resident population are foreign domestic workers (FDWs) while the remaining 66 per cent of the non-resident population are in the workforce and hold work passes.

These consist of 46 per cent of lower-/semi-skilled workers on Work Permits, 8 per cent mid-level skilled foreigners who are typically S Pass holders and the remaining 12 per cent of the non-resident population are higher-skilled foreigners such as professionals, managers, executives and specialists who hold Employment Passes (EP).

Excluding foreign domestic workers, some 43 per cent, or 427,000 foreign workers are in the services sector, 30 per cent or 292,500 in the construction industry and the remaining 27 per cent or 268,000 in the manufacturing sector.

Overall, more than two-thirds of Singapore's workforce of 3.02 million, excluding foreign domestic workers, is made up of residents with SCs and PRs forming the majority of the workforce at 67 per cent, while foreign workers make up the remaining 33 per cent.

The issue paper can be viewed on the population.sg website launched yesterday.

  
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