Singapore's water industry to receive $200 million boost

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a dialogue at the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet at the ballroom of Ritz Carlton Hotel on July 11, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a dialogue at the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet at the ballroom of Ritz Carlton Hotel on July 11, 2016. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE- Singapore's water industry will receive a $200 million funding boost for research and development over the next five years.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this during a dialogue on Monday (July 11) held during the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet.

He was responding to a question by Professor Chan Heng Chee, chairperson of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design, who asked if he felt that the region is spending enough on infrastructure to mitigate the problems of climate change.

PM Lee said climate change will bring about more extreme weather, droughts, floods and rising sea levels but preparations can be made to mitigate this.  

Research and development has helped ensure an adequate supply of water for Singapore over the years and the country will continue to depend on it, he said.

"Droughts are going to be a problem for us in Singapore. We have to prepare for our own water supply, which for us, has always been a strategic and high priority issue, and we are putting a lot of resources into it," he said.

With the fresh injection of funds, it is hoped that the water industry will contribute $2.85 billion to the local economy by 2020 and create 15,000 jobs by then.

Apart from developing innovations, the funds will go towards helping the industry to more quickly commercialise them and export them overseas. The Government will also develop a suitable talent pool to meet the industry's future needs.

The water industry currently contributes more than $2.2 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) and has created over 14,000 jobs in the water industry. By 2020, the Government hopes to bring this number to 15,000.

The funding comes under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, and tops the previous tranche of funding by some 40 per cent.

With the latest funding, the Government would have committed $670 million altogether for research and development in the water industry since 2006.

Chief executive of national water agency PUB Ng Joo Hee said Singapore has built up a global brand name in terms of sustainable water management and as a provider of water solutions.

He added: "The water sector is brimming with exciting prospects, and as we continue to work with the industry to focus on strategic areas for the next phase of growth, we will build on these achievements, and cement Singapore's status as a leading global hydrohub."