Kuala Lumpur, 10 November 2008

Public-private sectors partner up to accelerate regional infrastructure development

An international conference hosted by Malaysia today brought together leading regional policy-makers and global infrastructure financing experts to explore opportunities to strengthen public-private sector cooperation to accelerate regional infrastructure development.

The ASEAN Infrastructure Financing Mechanism Conference was officiated by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Malaysia YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

The conference was jointly organised by the Ministry of Finance, Malaysia and the Securities Commission (SC) under the auspices of the ASEAN Infrastructure Financing Mechanism (AIFM) Task Force. More than 200 senior government delegates of the AIFM Task Force from the 10-member ASEAN countries and key industry leaders attended the conference.

The inaugural event was closed by YB Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the Finance Minister II of Malaysia, who said that the AIFM conference was particularly timely given the current global financial turmoil.

“The economic environment going forward will be more challenging. Therefore, we in ASEAN must be open to explore new avenues for greater regional cooperation to support the financing of infrastructure development in ASEAN,” said Tan Sri Nor in his closing address, which was delivered by YB Dato’ Haji Ahmad Husni bin Mohamad Hanadzlah, the Deputy Finance Minister 1.

Meanwhile, SC Chairman Dato’ Sri Zarinah Anwar underscored the importance of the region’s capital markets as a significant source of financing for infrastructure projects.

“The region’s capital markets can be positioned to evolve into an important source of financing by fostering investor confidence in the reliability of the disclosure on the risk exposure of underlying assets, through the promotion of good governance and risk management, the application of high standards and best practices, and in the integrity of our markets,” said Dato’ Sri Zarinah in her welcome remarks.

The conference was also addressed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr Surin Pitsuwan, and Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, the Secretary-General of the Securities & Exchange Commission of Thailand, and Chairman of the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum.

In his special luncheon address, Dr Surin spoke on the need for access to regional capital markets and international capital flows to help facilitate regional intermediation that is vital for infrastructure development.

“While ASEAN has succeeded to channel some of its savings to infrastructure development, the large infrastructure needs exceed the resources available in the region. It is estimated that the total infrastructure financing gap in Asia, including ASEAN, averaged around USD420 billion per year over the period of 2006-2015,” said Dr Surin.

Participants attending the one-day event also listened to global experts discuss infrastructure financing and other best practices in infrastructure development. The speakers included senior officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, ADB Institute, and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services of India among others.

The AIFM Task Force, chaired by Malaysia, was established by the ASEAN Finance Ministers in 2006 to create a more facilitative environment for infrastructure development and financing in the region, including promoting greater regional and global private sector participation in regional infrastructure projects.

The Task Force also aims to strengthen linkages between infrastructure financing and capital markets in the region with a view towards promoting greater integration of regional capital markets in line with the ASEAN Economic Community vision.