THE World Bank has held Singapore up as a model of a country which managed to transform its slums and become a world-class city.
In its annual World Development Report 2009, the World Bank attributed this achievement to a government known for its accountability, meticulous planning and coordinated action.
The report discusses the relationship between geography and development and says that a key part of a country's success lies in implementing sound policies that develop economic activity.
It also observes that stopping people from rural areas migrating to cities can be counter productive as this can stifle innovation and growth.
But by instituting flexible regulations and versatile land use, policymakers can make urban areas attractive to firms and investors.
In illustrating these points, the 383-page report, published last November, highlighted the example of Singapore in one of its nine chapters.
When Singapore gained independence in 1965, the country was in dire straits as it faced massive overcrowding, a lack of public services and high unemployment, it noted.
Seven in 10 households were in badly overcrowded conditions, while a third of its people lived in squatter areas on the city's edges. An estimated 600,000 homes were needed, but only 60,000 were in private supply.
Unemployment was at a high of 14 per cent, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was less than US$2,700 (S$4,000) and half the population was illiterate.
Mortality rates were rising rapidly while migration from Malaysia and the surrounding regions put increasing pressure on housing and employment.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
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