Infrastructure Update: Vietnam Leading Infrastructure Investment in Southeast Asia

Infrastructure Update | April 4, 2017
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Jack Myint, and Timotheos Tan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 27 - March 29: 2017 Malaysia Business Mission

May 8 - May 9: 2017 Singapore Business Mission

May 10: 2017 Brunei Business Mission

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam leading infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released figures that mark Vietnam’s public and private infrastructure investment as the highest in Southeast Asia, accounting for an average of 5.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In comparison, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand allocate less than 3 percent of their GDP to infrastructure improvement. The high priority placed on infrastructure development in Vietnam is aimed at helping promote the nation’s attractiveness to foreign investors. Foreign direct investment (FDI) increased to a record $15.8 billion in 2016, with the economy forecasted to expand by more than 6 percent per annum until 2019. In order to support fuel such high levels of investment, Vietnam’s national transport sector has been instructed to mobilize private capital to offset the $32.6 billion difference between the Ministry of Transport’s budget requirements and its real capital allocation. On March 16, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc highlighted transport infrastructure at a meeting with Ministry representatives, saying that it plays a key role in Vietnam's socioeconomic development. During the Council’s inaugural business mission to the 22nd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting in November 2016, Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Transport, Nguyen Hong Truong, updated the delegation that transport infrastructure projects are modeled after public-private partnerships (PPPs) that have a range of 40 to 60 percent sharing; and a feasibility study on high speed railroad projects will be conducted in 2017, with target implementation in 2020.

Grab and Uber vie to pioneer Myanmar’s ridesharing market

Grab, a Malaysian startup now based in Singapore and valued at over $3 billion last September, announced on March 21 that it had commenced trails for its taxi-hailing service in Yangon. The pilot scheme, involving a small group of taxi drivers, will undergo a gradual expansion following driver and passenger feedback. This marks the seventh Southeast Asian country in which Grab operates. Comparatively, the $68 billion, international ridesharing company, Uber, currently operates in six countries in the region, but has announced plans to begin its own entry into the Myanmar market soon. They are expected to compete with companies like Oway, a local ridesharing company that has already established itself in Yangon. The Southeast Asian ridesharing market, currently worth about $2.5 billion, is forecast to encompass $13.1 billion by 2025.

ADB releases update to 2009 report on Asian infrastructure landscape

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released an update to its inaugural 2009 publication on the Asian infrastructure landscape. The revised report outlines the levels of investment required in power, transportation, telecommunications, and water and sanitation infrastructure for 2016 – 2030, factoring in the need to respond to climate change (climate-adjusted investment). According to ADB estimates, Southeast Asia will require 5.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be put toward climate-adjusted investment during that period, a reflection of the continued rapid growth forecasted for the Asia-Pacific region. The update calls for the deepening of capital markets to direct savings into investment, as well as regulatory and institutional reforms to better incentivize private investment and generate more projects for public-private partnerships (PPP). These include enacting legislation, streamlining procurement and bidding processes, developing dispute resolution mechanisms, and establishing credible government oversight.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Cambodia
Japan Provides Loans, Grants for Infrastructure
Thais ‘offer trains’ for new rail link
Japan Continues Clean City Development Project in Phnom Penh
PM Calls on People to Report Damaged Roads

Indonesia
World Bank approves new loan for Indonesian infrastructure
Japan selected as partner for Jakarta-Surabaya railway project
Indonesia's Widodo approves development of 16 strategic projects in East Kalimantan
Ministry orders 100 ships from local shipyards
High-speed railway financier wants clarity on spatial plan
Government keeps revising rules to lure infrastructure investment
Indonesia Needs USD 70 billion for Infrastructure Projects
Financial authority pushes insurance firms to invest in infrastructure
Ministry to launch weighbridge pilot project

Myanmar
Ride-hailing firms Grab, Uber pursue growth in Myanmar
Taxi-hailing service Grab to launch in Myanmar
Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar

Philippines
Infra spending to hit 7.4% of GDP by 2022–Pernia
Insurers help to pay for Asia's infrastructure needs
LRMC ready to break ground for P30-billion LRT line to Cavite
P326-B infrastructure projects start this year
World Bank approves $64.6M funding for Manila's BRT line
5 regional airport PPP deals attract more honchos
Closure, redevelopment of Naia pushed
Phl, China sign joint dev’t plan
P326 B infra projects on stream
PNOC gets 26 unsolicited offers for LNG hub | Malaya Business Insight
WHILE BOOSTING BANKING, INSURANCE SECTORS: Big-ticket infra projects to create jobs, fuel economy | Malaya Business Insight
Philippines: First Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit Line to Benefit Thousands of Commuters Daily
New fund sources open up for PH
DPWH oversees NLEX-Harbor link project | BusinessMirror

Singapore
Here's how the government justified the 30% water price hike
CapitaLand mulls over boosting $2.1b multi-asset presence in Vietnam
Construction activities in Singapore to grow 0.8% this year

Thailand
Thailand approves investment pledges worth $4.7 bln, electric car plan
Thailand studies leaseholds for foreigners, land windfall tax
Thailand says optimistic transport spending will resume

Vietnam
Vietnam Is Heavyweight Among Asia's Infrastructure Spenders
PM orders transport sector to boost infrastructure
Ho Chi Minh City plans vendor-friendly sidewalks
Ho Chi Minh City estate game is going underground
Construction material industry sees expanding Thai acquisition
Maiden river buses set for June launch in Ho Chi Minh City
Danang continues to ban Grab and Uber
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Cambodia

Japan Provides Loans, Grants for Infrastructure The Cambodia Daily 30th Mar 2017
Japan will offer Cambodia more than $140 million in loans and grants for infrastructure, health care and flood mitigation projects, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Tuesday. Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn and Hidehisa Horinouchi, Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia, are expected to sign the agreement this evening, according to a ministry statement. These projects are expected to “enhance people’s well-being with better health care, water supply and flood protection,” it says.

Thais ‘offer trains’ for new rail link Phnom Penh Post 16th Mar 2017
Thais ‘offer trains’ for new rail link The Thai government has made a verbal commitment to supply four trains to Cambodia for a railway set to connect the neighbouring countries by early July, said Ly Borin, undersecretary of state at the Public Works and Transport Ministry and director of the Cambodia Railroad Renovation Plan. According to Borin, the train route, which runs from Battambang to Banteay Meanchey before crossing over the border to Sa Kaeo province in Thailand, is expected to begin its test phase by early July. Currently, Cambodia operates a railway linking Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province, and a railway running from Phnom Penh to Pursat is still under construction.

Japan Continues Clean City Development Project in Phnom Penh Agence Kampuchea Presse 15th Mar 2017
The Government of Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is helping Cambodia to renovate drainage system and liquid waste in Phnom Penh in order to further promote the clean environment in the city.

PM Calls on People to Report Damaged Roads Agence Kampuchea Presse 15th Mar 2017
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has called on the Cambodian people to report damaged roads that have not been renovated yet, so that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport can take action. “People can take part in giving information, i.e. when seeing any damaged roads that have not been repaired yet, please take a photo and inbox the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, so that the ministry’s working group examines and repairs it immediately,” said Samdech Techo Hun Sen on his Facebook page this morning.

Indonesia

World Bank approves new loan for Indonesian infrastructure Antara News 28th Mar 2017
The World Bank has approved a new loan of US$200 million for Indonesia to help finance the countrys infrastructure projects. The loan fund would be used to support PT Indonesia Infrastructure Finance (IIF), a non bank private institution," chief representative of the World Bank in Indonesia Rodrigo Chaves said here on Saturday. "There is a big need for investment in Indonesian infrastructure and population on its way to become a high income country," Chaves said. Earlier, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) already provided fund for PT IIF to finance commercial infrastructure projects in the country.

Japan selected as partner for Jakarta-Surabaya railway project The Jakarta Post 27th Mar 2017
The government has finally decided to select Japan as its partner in the revitalization of the railway connecting Jakarta and Surabaya, East Java. "We have decided that we will use [the scheme] with Japan," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said as quoted by kontan.co.id on Sunday, adding that the preliminary feasibility study for the project was slated to start in May. "There will be joint study with Japan and we hope that [the construction] will finish in the fourth quarter of 2019," Luhut said.

Indonesia's Widodo approves development of 16 strategic projects in East Kalimantan Antara News 23rd Mar 2017
President Joko Widodo has approved development of 16 strategic projects in East Kalimantan mainly to change the economy of the province from dependence on exports of non renewable energy commodities. The projects have been proposed by East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak to reduce dependence on oil and gas and coal for export earning, a senior regional official Ichwansyah said.

Ministry orders 100 ships from local shipyards Antara News 23rd Mar 2017
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi disclosed plan to order 100 ships from some local shipyards, including those in Juwana, Pati district, Central Java.

High-speed railway financier wants clarity on spatial plan The Jakarta Post 22nd Mar 2017
State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Rini Soemarno denied on Tuesday that the China Development Bank (CDB) is withholding the disbursement of agreed-upon loans for the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway until the project's land acquisition process is fully completed. “The [land acquisition] is pending the completion of the regional spatial plan that needs to be signed by the President. If not, it cannot be completed because the spatial plan is what ensures that the location cannot be changed,” she told reporters at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta.

Government keeps revising rules to lure infrastructure investment The Jakarta Post 22nd Mar 2017
As the government has a limited budget to fund infrastructure development, it continues to work on necessary regulations to lure investment from the private sector. In its report titled Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) points out that Indonesia requires US$1.15 trillion worth of investment between 2016 and 2030 to expand its gross domestic product (GDP) by 4.5 percent.

Indonesia Needs USD 70 billion for Infrastructure Projects Tempo 22nd Mar 2017
Wismana Adi Suryabrata, deputy for the infrastructure of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Indonesia requires USD 70 billion (IDR932 trillion) annually to support infrastructure development. Wismana explained that the government has to fill USD 50 billion infrastructure budget gap.

Financial authority pushes insurance firms to invest in infrastructure The Jakarta Post 16th Mar 2017
The Financial Services Authority (OJK) is pushing insurance companies to invest in infrastructure projects being handled by several state-owned construction companies (SOEs). "We have invited both insurers and construction SOEs. The latter have presented their projects to the insurers. Then they can make a consortium and invest directly or buy bonds," OJK commissioner for the non-banking financial industry Firdaus Djaelani said during a seminar in Jakarta on Thursday.

Ministry to launch weighbridge pilot project The Jakarta Post 13th Mar 2017
Transportation Ministry Director General for Land Transportation Pudji Hartanto Iskandar said the government would launch a weighbridge pilot project. The weighbridge program aims to prevent overloaded trucks from using certain roads as they are blamed for road damage, he said on Monday. "We will focus on 29 places , with nine of them to be part of the pilot project," he said. The nine places include Aceh Tamiang in Aceh, Sarolangun in Jambi and Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra.

Myanmar

Ride-hailing firms Grab, Uber pursue growth in Myanmar Reuters 21st Mar 2017
Grab is working with a small group of taxi drivers in a trial in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, and would increase in scale gradually, the company said in a statement. Myanmar would add to Grab's other regional operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Its U.S. rival Uber operates worldwide.

Taxi-hailing service Grab to launch in Myanmar Financial Times 21st Mar 2017
Grab, the Southeast Asian rival to Uber, has launched a trial of its taxi-hailing service in Myanmar, its first expansion to a new country since 2014. The Singapore-based startup, valued at more than $3bn last September, announced on Tuesday that it was operating a trial of GrabTaxi in Yangon, working with a small group of taxi drivers.

Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar WSJ 21st Mar 2017
GrabTaxi Holdings Pte., a top Southeast Asian ride-sharing startup, started service in Myanmar on Tuesday, hoping for an edge in its race to reach new areas ahead of its American rival Uber Technologies Inc. Since launching in Malaysia in 2012, Singapore-based Grab has expanded rapidly and now has more than 600,000 drivers in 35 cities in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and is valued at $3 billion. Uber, a global behemoth valued at $68 billion, operates in more than 25 Southeast Asian cities. It hasn't disclosed how many drivers it has. Both are competing for users in a region that is home to more than 600 million people. Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market is forecast to surge to $13.1 billion by 2025 from $2.5 billion in 2015, according to a report from Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings.

Philippines

Infra spending to hit 7.4% of GDP by 2022–Pernia BusinessMirror 26th Mar 2017
The Duterte administration’s infrastructure spending would reach 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022 with the expected completion of 55 “flagship projects”, according to the chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the increase in infrastructure spending is in keeping with the government’s goal of cutting poverty incidence by creating more jobs. “So, for the whole term of President Duterte, the cumulative amount spent on infrastructure would be close to P9 trillion,” Pernia said.

Insurers help to pay for Asia's infrastructure needs Nikkei Asian Review 23rd Mar 2017
A recent $150 million refurbishment of two decades-old geothermal power plants on the Philippine island of Luzon may sound like just another project aimed at overcoming the country's severe electricity shortages. But, for Asia's insurance companies, there is more to it. Bonds issued to pay for the upgrades and future operation costs, worth 10.7 billion pesos ($213 million), were backed by the Asian Development Bank -- the first such project bonds issued in Southeast Asia, excluding Malaysia, since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Investors see infrastructure projects as risky, especially green-field assets that take a long time to bear fruit. But credit enhancement -- backing by a multilateral lender, for example -- helps reduce the risk of default, encouraging institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds to put money into them.

LRMC ready to break ground for P30-billion LRT line to Cavite BusinessMirror 20th Mar 2017
Train operator Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) is gearing up for the groundbreaking of the multibillion-peso extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 to Cavite, albeit a little late from the original target, as it waits for the gosignal from the office of President Duterte. Metro Pacific Investments Corp. President Jose Ma. K. Lim said in an interview his group is ready to break ground for the roughly P30-billion facility, as the first package of the right-of-way has been delivered by the government. “For Phase One, we have received five and a half kilometers [km] or six km of right-of-way. It is complete. We are just waiting for the President to tell us when it is fit to break ground for the extension,” he said. A source familiar with the matter said the groundbreaking is slated for April.  The group was looking at scheduling the groundbreaking ceremony sometime in February or March. Targeted for completion in about four years after the delivery of right-of-way, the 11.7-kilometer Cavite Extension will connect into the existing system immediately south of the Baclaran Station and run in a generally southerly direction to Niyog, Cavite. It will consist of elevated guideways throughout the majority of the alignment, except for the guideway section at Zapote, which will be located at grade. Eight new stations will be provided with three intermodal facilities across Pasay City, Parañaque City, Las Piñas City and Cavite. The new stations are Aseana, MIA, Asia World, Ninoy Aquino, Dr. Santos, Las Piñas, Zapote and Niyog. The intermodal facilities shall be located at Dr. Santos, Zapote and Niyog.

P326-B infrastructure projects start this year Business World 17th Mar 2017
The Finance Department said groundbreaking is expected this year on three railway projects outside Metro Manila, as well as new public transport lines along the main Metro Manila artery, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Among those to start construction this year are the Clark-Subic rail line, the Tutuban-Clark rail line, the 581-kilometer South Line of the North-South Railway Project connecting Tutuban, Calamba, Batangas and Bicol, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a speech in Makati City on Wednesday. According to an earlier report from the Finance Department, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) will be the implementing agency of the rail projects, with funding to be a combination of Official Development Assistance, public-private partnership concessions, and government funds. The Finance Secretary also said that projects at Clark International Airport, the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit traversing EDSA, and three bridges across the Pasig river will commence construction this year. Moreover, Mr. Dominguez added: “We are also closely working with our Chinese partners to finally start the construction of the Kaliwa Dam and Chico River Dam this year.” The projects are worth a combined P326 billion, according to Mr. Dominguez.

World Bank approves $64.6M funding for Manila's BRT line GMA News Online 17th Mar 2017
The World Bank (WB) on Friday approved the funding for Metro Manila's first bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The Metro Manila BRT Line 1 will cost $109.4 million, of which $64.6 million will come from the WB and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), the lender said in a statement posted on its website. Managed by the Washington-based WB, the CTF provides developing countries and emerging economies with resources to scale up clean technologies that have strong potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Philippine government will fund the remaining $44.8 million of the project, the multilateral lender said. “By providing an affordable and convenient public transport option, this project will help make job and education opportunities more accessible, especially for the poor residing around the BRT route,” WB Country Director Mara Warwick said. According to the WB, the BRT project will provide safe, reliable, and comfortable rides for about 300,000 commuters daily along España Boulevard and Quezon Avenue. Like trains, BRTs run on dedicated lanes, carrying passengers in large numbers. Unlike trains that run on rails, however, BRTs deploy buses, making the system simpler and cheaper to construct, operate, and maintain. Expected to be operational by 2020, the project will be implemented by the Department of Transportation in coordination with the local governments of Manila and Quezon City.

5 regional airport PPP deals attract more honchos Rappler 13th Mar 2017
Ayala Corporation's infrastructure group and Lucio Tan-led Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation could go head-to-head with other top listed conglomerates for the development, operations, and maintenance of 5 unbundled regional airports in Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Laguindingan, and Bohol. These two groups, along with other foreign and local companies, attended the pre-qualification conference on the public-private partnership (PPP) projects in Mandaluyong City on Monday, March 13. If they push through with the bidding, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation and Asia's Emerging Dragon will battle with a consortia led by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Aboitiz InfraCapital Incorporated, San Miguel Holdings Corporation, Filinvest Development Corporation, and Megawide Construction Corporation. Although these big local investors were lured in by the unbundled airports, a couple of them are finding it difficult to partner with global airport operators because of the size of the airports. Previously pre-qualified bidders in the bundled airport project are considered pre-qualified in these unbundled deals, provided that there are no changes in their legal, technical, and financial capacities. Regional airports being auctioned off under the PPP scheme are: the P20.26-billion Bacolod-Silay Airport, the P30.40-billion Iloilo Airport, the P40.57-billion Davao Airport, the P14.62-billion Laguindingan Airport, and the P2.34-billion New Bohol (Panglao) Airport. Both officials of MPIC and Aboitiz have raised concern on the 10% equity requirement of an airport operator to a participating consortium. "I think one of the big considerations really is the equity requirement. The transportation department has set the qualification documents submission deadline on May 11, and the bid proposals submission on December 8. The department plans to award these regional airport projects by January 2018.

Closure, redevelopment of Naia pushed Inquirer.net 20th Mar 2017
The Philippines could realize massive investments to the tune of P5.4 trillion by closing and redeveloping Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Philippines’s main air gateway. This was according to conglomerate San Miguel Corp., which made an unsolicited offer to build a subsidy-free P700 billion international airport and city complex in Bulakan, Bulacan within six years. A document, prepared by SMC’s infrastructure arm, also detailed the heavy cost associated with capacity limitations at Naia, which was surrounded by dense residential and commercial areas, thus limiting expansion options. ADVERTISEMENT SMC said delays had been costing airlines P1.1 billion yearly, and this would increase to P3.8 billion by 2020 if the situation would not change. For passengers, productivity losses also carry a hefty price tag: P2.8 billion today and P11 billion by 2020. SMC, a food and beverage giant that is continuing its diversification into infrastructure, said the solution was to build an entirely new airport, in this case, on a 2,500-hectare property along Manila Bay in Bulacan. It rivals another offer from Belle Corp. and the Solar Group to reclaim 2,500 hectares of land in offshore Sangley, Cavite to be redeveloped into an airport, seaport and industrial zone.

Phl, China sign joint dev’t plan philstar.com 19th Mar 2017
MANILA, Philippines - China and the Philippines have signed a six-year economic cooperation plan to boost trade and investments. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and China International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying signed the Six Year Development Program (SYDP) for Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Philippines and China during a meeting in Davao City. Also tackled during the meeting was the possibility of extending support for the conduct of feasibility studies for two infrastructure projects which include the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridges and the Davao City Expressway. The two countries likewise discussed general updates on bilateral and financing cooperation, infrastructure, trade, investments, agriculture, fishery, and tourism.

P326 B infra projects on stream philstar.com 17th Mar 2017
MANILA, Philippines -  About P326 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been started or are in the pipeline for implementation this year, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

PNOC gets 26 unsolicited offers for LNG hub | Malaya Business Insight Malaya Business Insight 17th Mar 2017
Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) president and chief executive officer, Reuben Lista said that so far, they already received 26 unsolicited offers both from local and abroad for the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub in the country. The official noted that from the 26 firms, seven are from China; six from Japan; three from Singapore; three local firms; two from South Korea; two from Turkey; one from United Arab Emirates; one from Spain and another one from Australia. “This will be an LNG integrated systems complete with a power plant, storage, regasification and liquefaction (facilities.) Whether off shore, on shore or near shore it is already (dependent on) their computations,” Lista added during his briefing to reporters in Taguig. PNOC said that they are expecting more proposals to come but noted that they will be open only until the end of April before making a final shortlist which Lista said could end up with seven parties at most.

WHILE BOOSTING BANKING, INSURANCE SECTORS: Big-ticket infra projects to create jobs, fuel economy | Malaya Business Insight Malaya Business Insight 17th Mar 2017
Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III said some P326 billion worth of projects have begun construction or will be built starting this year which would lead to a “blossoming of opportunities” for Filipino businessmen. Dominguez said businesses should expect to be busy starting this year as the Duterte administration rolls out big-ticket infrastructure projects that would, in turn, stimulate the economy, create jobs and generate more financing opportunities for the country’s banking and insurance sectors. He added the stronger linkages forged with development partners and regional neighbors will provide new drivers for the growth of the domestic economy.

Philippines: First Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit Line to Benefit Thousands of Commuters Daily World Bank 16th Mar 2017
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2017 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved funding for the first bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Metro Manila which will provide safe, reliable, and comfortable rides for about 300,000 commuters daily along España Boulevard and Quezon Avenue. Like trains, BRTs run on dedicated lanes, carrying passengers in large numbers. Unlike trains that run on rails, however, BRTs deploy buses, making the system simpler and cheaper to construct, operate, and maintain. The Metro Manila BRT Line 1 Project will cost $109.4 million, of which $64.6 million will come from the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The Philippine government will provide funding equivalent to $44.8 million. Pioneered in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, BRT systems are growing in popularity throughout the world for efficiency and affordability. From Bogotá to Boston, Cleveland to Curitiba, Hartford to Honolulu, Las Vegas to Los Angeles, Oakland to Ottawa, Pittsburgh to Porto Alegre, and São Paulo to Sydney, Ahmedabad to Jakarta, over 150 cities operate or are developing BRT.

New fund sources open up for PH Inquirer.net 16th Mar 2017
The Philippines’ pivot to its Asian neighbors is opening up more sources of funds as China and Japan compete for the financing of local infrastructure projects. While the Chinese government is expected to firm up its commitments when China Vice Premier Wang Yang visits the country this week, the Japanese are trying to catch up, such that Philippine economic managers will meet with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) later this month to identify projects it would finance, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters.

DPWH oversees NLEX-Harbor link project | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 16th Mar 2017
PUBLIC Works Secretary Mark A. Villar recently inspected the ongoing North Luzon Expressway (Nlex)–Harbor link project of Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), which was held at Karuhatan Village in Valenzuela City. The Nlex-Harbor link and Connector Road Projects are expected to bring the following benefits once it is finished, such as decongest Manila, as it provides alternative access to mainline Nlex; bypassing Edsa and Balintawak Toll Plaza; shorten travel distance by establishing direct routes between the North Luzon, Camanava and Northern Manila areas; cut travel time by almost half as it allows an average speed of 80 kilometer per hour; improve movements of cargo trucks, as they will not have to worry anymore on the truck ban; lower incidence of road accidents due to better road pavement; and tighter traffic management. The project is also expected to spur economic activities in the Camanava area and increase land value, as well, improve transport logistics with more efficient movement of trucks in and out of the ports in Manila, stimulate commerce between Port Area, Central and Northern Luzon and, last, it generate about 10,000 jobs during the construction phase. “I am really hoping that the project is finished before December,” Villar said.

Singapore

Here's how the government justified the 30% water price hike Singapore Business Review 31st Mar 2017
It is to reflect water's true scarcity value. The Singapore government, as announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during Budget 2017, will raise water prices by 30% in two phases The hike will commence from July 1, 2017, with ain increase of less than $25 per month for three-quarters of businesses once the increase is fully phased in on July 1, 2018. During the Budget 2017 debate, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli explained that the reason behind the decision is to reflect the water’s true scarcity value. The hike is to boost investment in desalination and NEWater plants to ensure resilience in supply. bbed from PUB

CapitaLand mulls over boosting $2.1b multi-asset presence in Vietnam Singapore Business Review 28th Mar 2017
A Raffles City could be considered. CapitaLand Limited has announced plans to expand its multi-sector real estate presence in Vietnam. It is looking to significantly increase its S$2.1b multi-asset class presence in Vietnam, including a possible Raffles City. CapitaLand plans to acquire more sites in Vietnam for residential development – possibly yielding 2,000 to 2,500 units this year – and will continue to keep a lookout for investment opportunities in offices, serviced residences, and integrated developments.

Construction activities in Singapore to grow 0.8% this year Singapore Business Review 28th Mar 2017
It declined 2.8% last year. RHB expects construction activities to grow 0.8% this year, on the back of a low base effect, ramp-up of ongoing infrastructure projects, and accelerated public civil works as announced in the Budget. “The sector declined 2.8% in 2016, and would be constrained by sluggish contract awards. Of the contracts awarded in 2016, the majority constitute civil engineering work (S$9.4b), followed by residential (S$6.4b), institutional & others (S$4.4b), industrial (S$3.3b), and commercial (S$2.6b),” noted RHB. 

Thailand

Thailand approves investment pledges worth $4.7 bln, electric car plan Reuters 24th Mar 2017
Thailand approved four investment applications worth more than 161 billion baht ($4.65 billion) and a promotion scheme for electric cars, the state investment agency said on Friday. Of the pledges, Thailand's Gulf Group will invest in two electricity generating projects worth a combined 118 billion baht, the Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement. In addition, two units of PTT Pcl, Thailand's largest energy firm, will invest a combined 43.5 billion baht in gas transportation systems, it said.

Thailand studies leaseholds for foreigners, land windfall tax AsiaOne 24th Mar 2017
Thailand is studying a law to allow foreigners to buy property through 50-year leasehold contracts and also to sell them, which would help boost demand for the country's property sector, the finance minister said. Foreigners currently cannot sell leasehold property. "The finance ministry is looking at this idea, which is highly possible," Apisak Tantivorawong told a seminar late on Thursday. "If we can do it, the property industry will boom again because demand will come from all over the world," he said.

Thailand says optimistic transport spending will resume Reuters 13th Mar 2017
Nearly two years after Thailand's junta approved $40 billion for big transport projects to spur economic revival, it has spent barely two percent of that, official figures show. The first of the 20 projects in the junta's big transport spending plan was approved in May 2015. By late January only 26.6 billion baht ($760 million) had been spent on them, documents from ministries showed. Projects are being held up by unforeseen delays for feasibility studies, bidding, procurement and changes to key officials, officials say.

Vietnam

Vietnam Is Heavyweight Among Asia's Infrastructure Spenders Bloomberg.com 22nd Mar 2017
Vietnam's public and private sector infrastructure investment averaged 5.7 percent of gross domestic product in recent years, the highest in Southeast Asia and compares with 6.8 percent in China, according to the Asian Development Bank. Indonesia and the Philippines spend less than 3 percent, while Malaysia and Thailand spend even less at under 2 percent. The ADB estimates that emerging economies in the region will need to invest as much as $26 trillion through 2030 to build transport networks, boost power supply and upgrade water and sanitation facilities. Vietnam, among the fastest-growing nations in the world, is boosting infrastructure to lure more foreign investors as it positions itself as Asia's next Tiger Economy.

PM orders transport sector to boost infrastructure vietnamnews.vn 17th Mar 2017
The national transport sector has been told to seek ways of developing infrastructure to catch up with the growing travel demand of Vietnamese people, despite a severe shortage of capital. The order was issued by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Thursday when he chaired a meeting with the ministry’s representatives in an attempt to overcome a range of challenges faced by the sector. Ministry data shows that the transport sector is in need of nearly VNĐ953 trillion (US$41.8 billion) by 2020. However, the real capital that the ministry has been allocated so far is about VNĐ210 trillion ($9.2 billion).

Ho Chi Minh City plans vendor-friendly sidewalks Tuoitre News 21st Mar 2017
Street vendors will no longer have to run away from road inspectors as Ho Chi Minh City authorities are going to allow them to run their business on designated sidewalks. Officials put forward a plan to move street vendors onto certain sidewalks in the city at a meeting on Monday between the People’s Committee and the administrations of District 1 and District 4. According to Tuyen, it is necessary to strike a balance between maintaining order on the sidewalk and facilitating street vending, as they have become an integral aspect of the city’s culture and society.

Ho Chi Minh City estate game is going underground Tuoitre News 20th Mar 2017
As Ho Chi Minh City braces for the opening of its first metro line, which will travel underground in downtown areas, the race to deliver real estate opportunities is heating up. Multiple developers of high-rise apartments, shopping malls and condominiums in the southern hub have sent a joint letter to the municipal Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR), requesting permission to connect their buildings to the city’s future underground metro network. The request was viewed favorably by the MAUR, which said good connections between the metro network and nearby building infrastructure was the key to encouraging the use of public transport among residents.

Construction material industry sees expanding Thai acquisition Vietnam Net 20th Mar 2017
Construction material industry sees expanding Thai acquisition A slew of construction material firms especially cement producers in Vietnam have become Thai ownership through mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which is forecast to keep going on in the upcoming time. Thang Long Cement Plant The latest deal took place in March when Thai SCG Cement-Building Material Company purchased 100 percent shares worth US$156 million from shareholders of Vietnam Construction Material Company (VCM). The plant has the capacity of 3.1 million tons a year in the central region. The Ministry of Construction needs to work with relevant ministries and localities to boost the use of cement products such as unbaked bricks in public works including cement roads, remove unnecessary cement projects from the plan and do not put into operation new production lines from next year.

Maiden river buses set for June launch in Ho Chi Minh City Tuoitre News 18th Mar 2017
The first two river bus lines in Ho Chi Minh City will open in June to offer locals an alternative traffic-free means of public transport. The project’s developer, Thuong Nhat Ltd., is taking over piers and wharfs along the city’s iconic Saigon River to commence building stations for the upcoming river bus routes, according to the Division of Water Traffic under the municipal Department of Transport. The department noted that bus takers will not be required to wear life vests as the boats are designed to ensure maximum safety for passengers. The river bus routes have received a total investment of VND125 billion (US$5.58 million), under a build-operate-transfer (BOO) contract.

Danang continues to ban Grab and Uber Vietnam Net 18th Mar 2017
Danang continues to ban Grab and Uber Danang, the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, is waiting for guidance from the Ministry of Transportation on its request to pilot plan to apply technology in contracted passenger transport businesses. In the meantime, the earlier order from the Traffic Safety Committee of Danang outlined in Document 57/CV-BATGT on preventing the operation of GrabCar and Uber in the city, is still valid.  In the document, the committee asked that the City Department of Information and Communications order Internet and mobile service providers to prevent mobile phones from accessing the Grab and Uber apps, and that the city police and the City Department of Transport work together to find and punish people and organisations that are providing illegal services through these apps.