Singapore can help build region's resilience to natural disasters as part of sustainable growth: Heng Swee Keat

Acting Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is developing the market for insurance-linked securities as an alternative risk financing solution.
Acting Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is developing the market for insurance-linked securities as an alternative risk financing solution.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore can contribute to sustainable growth in Asia by helping to strengthen the region's resilience to natural disasters, said Acting Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (June 12).

To this end, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is developing the market for insurance-linked securities as an alternative risk financing solution, he said.

These can help provide financing quickly in the wake of regional disasters or catastrophic losses.

Mr Heng, who is Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, said that only about 5 per cent of economic losses in developing Asia are currently insured, despite the fact that natural catastrophes have increased in intensity and frequency due to climate change.

"This puts tremendous strain on governments of developing nations in the event of a natural catastrophe, which can set back economic progress in the affected areas for years to come," Mr Heng said.

He was speaking at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum's Global Public Investor report launch, held at the Singapore Exchange.

Global public investors are central banks, sovereign funds and public pension funds which impact global markets. The report gives insights into these institutions' performance and practices.

To develop the market for insurance-linked securities, the MAS has set up a Natural Catastrophe Data Analytics Exchange, Mr Heng said.

 
 

This initiative supports the structuring, modelling and securitisation of such transactions by improving data quality and promoting standardisation.

It has also introduced a grant scheme to defray the costs of issuing catastrophe bonds, with the first such bond issued out of Singapore earlier this year.

During his speech, Mr Heng outlined two other ways in which Singapore can contribute to Asia's sustainable growth.

Its Infrastructure Asia initiative, launched in 2017, can be a conduit for institutions to invest in infrastructure development opportunities here, he said. The initiative by Enterprise Singapore and the MAS aims to connect Asian governments with the relevant experts for infrastructure projects, helping them build capabilities.

Singapore is also growing its sustainable finance sector, with the MAS seeking to nurture the growth of green, social and sustainability bonds, as well as raising awareness of sustainable financing in the financial sector.

"Asia will face significant challenges, as well as opportunities, on sustainable economic development in the coming years," Mr Heng said.

"Nations around the world have committed to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals - it is critical that we generate economic growth, and at the same time, protect the environment of our planet."