Parliament: S'pore can be a key player in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre, front) poses for a group photo for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing June 29. Backbencher, Ong Teng Koon said Singapore can be a key player in the AIIB in Parliament on Aug 17.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre, front) poses for a group photo for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing June 29. Backbencher, Ong Teng Koon said Singapore can be a key player in the AIIB in Parliament on Aug 17.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore may seem like a small player among its partners in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) but it can still contribute significantly, while ensuring that the Republic's views are heard, said backbencher Ong Teng Koon.

For instance, Singapore's "credibility in forging clean and efficient institutions will be valuable, and may give us a say in how the corporate governance structures of the AIIB are formulated," added the MP for Sembawang GRC on Monday.

He was speaking in Parliament during a debate about a Bill which would allow Singapore to subscribe into starting capital of the China-led AIIB.

Singapore had signed the AIIB charter on June 29, and the Bill would allow it to contribute some US$250 million (S$338 million) towards the bank's projected US$100 billion capital. This would give Singapore a 0.48 per cent of the total voting share.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs Josephine Teo told Parliament that this is an appropriate level of contribution to the AIIB, taking into account Singapore's current subscriptions to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Singapore will be ranked sixth among Asean countries, in terms of the size of its capital subscription to the AIIB.

There are 57 prospective founding members to the AIIB - 30 are regional countries and 27 are non-regional countries.

While these are early days in the formation of the AIIB, the Government should give thought to how Singapore's views and interests can be most effectively articulated, Mr Ong said. "This is to ensure that the directions the AIIB takes, will indeed be to the broad benefit of all of Asia while also being consistent with Singapore's own national interests," he added.

During the debate, Nominated MP Thomas Chua also called on government-linked companies to open up opportunities for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in AIIB projects. "In the area of infrastructure development, government-linked companies are in the forefront, and have a very credible track record. In bidding for AIIB projects, they have a higher success rate compared to the SMEs," he said.

SMEs see many business opportunities arising from regional infrastructure projects, but as the scale and size of the projects are rather large, they are probably beyond the reach of any single company, Mr Chua noted

"If there is government support, and if government-linked companies are willing to take the lead, the success rate of local enterprises in bidding for the projects would be substantially higher."