January 12–13, 1999
Co-hosted by the World Bank and
The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Abstracts of Papers Presented
Urban Transportation and Land Regulations in Singapore
Sock Yong Phang, National University of Singapore
Professor Phang's paper discusses the importance of land use and transport policies in Singapore's development. The paper opens with a discussion of the Singapore government's ownership, regulation and housing policies used to ensure the efficient allocation of land. These include strong regulatory control on land use, widespread compulsory purchase early in the city-state's independence and the use of market-based mechanisms to dampen speculation and improve policy efficacy. The paper moves on to a discussion of transport policies—including a range of ownership and usage taxes on cars, the introduction of an electronic road pricing network, and a strong public transport system. Professor Phang notes that for these policies to work, an efficient web of bureaucratic institutions was required. Singapore's public service benefits from tough merit based recruiting and very high pay. The paper concludes by noting the limited transferability of Singapore's policies, which were first implemented at a time when there were few private land owners and during a national crisis. Furthermore, they are grounded in the advantages of being a city state and having an effective, honest bureaucracy.