In the decades after independence, Singapore rapidly developed from a low income country to a high income country. GDP grew with an average of 7.7% since independence; in the first 25 years growth topped 9.2%. Per capita GDP over the same periods grew by 5.4% and 7.2%.
Rapid industrialization took momentum in the 1960s and, by the end of the decade, manufacturing had become the lead sector of the country’s economic growth. By the early 1970s, Singapore had reached full employment. In the 1980s, Singapore had joined the ranks of Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan among the newly industrializing countries in Asia. It is currently ranked among the world’s most competitive economies. Presently, the strong manufacturing and services sectors have become the twin pillars of the Singapore economy. There is a wide range of businesses, with a particular focus on high value added activities.
Singapore became the 104th member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on August 3, 1966. Prior to joining the World Bank Group (WBG), Singapore had received the first loan in 1963 under guarantee from the Malaysian Federation, of which it was part at the time. The $15 million loan was used for the construction of a power station.
Over the period 1963-75, Singapore received 14 loans from the World Bank for port expansion, sewage, power, telecoms, education and environmental management. Singapore is a member of all five World Bank Group institutions, namely the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Centre of Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Singapore’s commitment to IDA16 stands at $49 million.
The WBG Singapore office opened on September 1, 1999. Initially, the WBG Singapore office was an external affairs representative office focused on linking with local networks for the purpose of knowledge sharing. The WBG engagement with Singapore expanded in 2009 with the establishment of the Singapore Urban Hub. The Singapore Urban Hub leveraged Singapore’s expertise in urban development and infrastructure finance.
In September 2011, the WBG and Singapore agreed to expand their partnership. The WBG expanded the Urban Hub with the Infrastructure Policy Group (TWISI) of the Sustainable Development Network, an IFC office and the Asia regional MIGA office in Singapore. In addition, Controller (CTR), Corporate Finance and Risk Management (CFR), Treasury and FPD’s Competitive Industries Practice (CI) established units in Singapore. IFC’s Global Infrastructure Fund was located in Singapore in FY13.
The Office of the World Bank’s Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific also moved from Washington DC to the Singapore Office to bring the best possible knowledge on development issues and challenges closer to the Region.
The Singapore Hub aims to combine Singapore’s unique development experience and financial sector strengths, especially in urban development, infrastructure finance, competitive industries development and financial management with WBG practices in these areas to deliver better results to clients. The Hub has been steadily expanding.
Support the WBG Infrastructure Strategy and its transformational projects through advisory services, knowledge products and mobilization of additional resources for infrastructure finance (e.g. Infrastructure funds, take-out financing, domestic market development); and
Promote synergies within the WBG through the co-location of World Bank, IFC and MIGA. The Infrastructure Policy Group of SDN (TWISI), IFC and MIGA’s Asia Office have strong complementarities in infrastructure finance. The Competitive Industries (CI) Practice supports countries develop their economic potential in diverse industries. CI can develop partnerships with the ICT and infrastructure financing practices in the hub. CTR, CFR and Treasury can provide clients knowledge on and access to innovative financing instruments.
Each member country is represented within the World Bank Group by a governor, who is generally the finance minister or the minister of development of the country concerned, and whose powers extend in particular to authorizing capital increases, approving financial statements, accepting or electing to suspend new members at the Annual Meetings.
The governor for Singapore is Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the deputy prime minister and finance minister. The alternate governor is Permanent Secretary Peter Ong Boon Kwee of the ministry of finance.
World Bank Executive Director
The governors delegate some of their functions to executive directors. These individuals meet as needed to decide on the proper response to proposals from the president of the World Bank Group with regard to extending loans and deciding upon policies to guide the general operations of the institution. The executive director for Southeast Asia, which includes Singapore, is Dr. Sundaran Annamalai.
Shares and Voting Power
The member countries of the World Bank Group have a given number of shares in the capital of the institution of which they are members; this number of shares determines their voting power when decisions are reached by the Board of Executive Directors.
Singapore holds 0.02% of the shares in IBRD, with 0.05% of voting powers. It holds 0.10% of the voting power in IDA. Singapore has a 0.01% interest in IFC, with 0.04% of voting powers. Finally, Singapore holds 0.15% of the shares and 0.23% of the voting power in MIGA.