Parliament Debate on ministries' budgets: Transport

Maritime sector set to get $20b boost, more new jobs by 2024

Singapore's maritime sector can expect $20 billion in business spending from industry players by 2024, which will create more jobs here, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat.

The number of maritime tech start-ups will also more than triple from 30 to 100 by 2025, while a new programme will be launched to develop leaders with knowledge of key maritime issues and strong business networks.

Speaking yesterday during the debate on his ministry's budget, Mr Chee said the $20 billion in spending commitments from maritime companies will create jobs in areas such as maritime law and arbitration, ship management and marine insurance.

He outlined three targets for the local maritime ecosystem to strive towards - to be integrated, innovative and inclusive.

The maritime sector handled 36.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last year amid the pandemic, a slight drop of 0.9 per cent from the year before.

"We attracted 11 new shipping groups to Singapore, and worked with eight maritime companies to expand their operations here," he said, adding that the sector has to become an "integrated system" to build on the momentum and seize new opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.

Providing an update on the mega Tuas Port project, he said the first phase of land reclamation works is on track to be completed by the end of this year.

The Tuas Port will bring together port operator PSA's operations in Pasir Panjang, Keppel and Brani, and be the size of two Ang Mo Kio towns when fully operational by 2040. It will be able to handle up to 65 million TEUs a year, 50 per cent more than Singapore's current capacity.

The facility will be fully automated, with automated cranes and driverless vehicles.

"These will more than double our labour productivity at Tuas, compared to our City Terminals, and create many skilled jobs for Singaporeans in the port sector. It will also be a greener port, with a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions intensity," Mr Chee said.

The Government plans to develop the Tuas South region for industrial use over the next two decades, and will continue to explore viable transport options for workers there as well as increase public housing options in the west, he added.

Mr Chee told the House the maritime sector has to be innovative, and said the Government will work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to push research efforts and to scale up their operations.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) will add $15 million to the Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund, bringing the total funds available for maritime research and development and product development to $100 million.

With this, the cap on co-funding support for maritime tech SMEs will increase from 50 per cent currently to 70 per cent. Eligible projects by industry consortiums will also receive up to 70 per cent co-funding support.

The aim is to more than triple the number of maritime tech start-ups supported under the Pier71 funding programme from 30 to 100 by 2025, he said.

Mr Chee added that the maritime sector should be inclusive, and create a diverse range of jobs for people with different backgrounds and skill sets. "We want to attract and train more Singaporeans to take on seafaring and shore-based jobs," he said.

Moving forward, there will also be opportunities in areas such as environmental sustainability, systems engineering, cyber security and data analytics.

A new programme will also be launched to groom future leaders for the maritime sector here.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2021, with the headline Maritime sector set to get $20b boost, more new jobs by 2024. Subscribe