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Live From Sea Asia 2013
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Singapore unveils maritime development initiatives at Sea Asia

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced a number initiatives to promote maritime research and development (R&D), productivity and manpower development at the official opening of Sea Asia 2013 today.

Addressing over 400 top maritime industry executives from across Asia and beyond at the official opening of Sea Asia 2013 DPM Tharman outlined a number of initiatives to cement Singapore’s position as an International Maritime Centre. “While the industry globally faces great challenges, the Singapore government takes the long-term view and we remain committed to developing the maritime sector,” he said.

Highlighted by DPM Tharman as perhaps the most important strategy of three measures announced was enhancing manpower development and the skills and quality of the workforce.

From August this year the Singapore Management University (SMU) will launch a new Maritime Economics concentration under its School of Economics. “Economics and Finance undergraduates can pursue a structured curriculum comprising maritime-related modules, internships, overseas study missions and talks by industry experts. Upon graduation, these students will be well-placed to take shore-based positions in the industry,” said DPM Tharman.

The Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will also be setting up a Global Internship Award offering a fully sponsored maritime-focused internship with local and overseas attachments. The MPA plans to set aside $S2m for 100 interns over the next five years.

Turning to maritime R&D programmes, DPM Tharman announced an extension by the MPA of its S$100m Maritime Innovation and Technology (Mint) Fund. To continue to develop Singapore’s maritime R&D capabilities, the MPA has extended the fund for another five years with a top-up of S$50m.

To date the 10-year old programme has committed S$93m to some 13 R&D programmes including ballast water treatment systems and automated guided vehicles for ports.

Looking to the area of productivity DPM Tharman said: “Productivity improvements are indeed critical not only for Singapore’s maritime sector but also across the global maritime industry, given the universal challenges of cost pressures and shortage of skilled manpower.”

From the beginning of June, the MPA will introduce a S$25m Productivity Programme under the Maritime Cluster Fund offering co-funding support for productivity initiatives by maritime companies. The harbour craft sector was highlighted as key segment that could benefit from the programme. “In the coming months, MPA will work with industry players to review the sector’s market structure, which is currently highly fragmented, and identify opportunities for productivity improvement,” he said.  

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