Govt admits: We could have planned better

The twin train disruptions on 15 and 17 December 2011 affected more than 200,000 commuters in total. Transport minister Lui Tuck Yew said his ministry and the LTA hold shared responsibility for the incidents alongside SMRT. (Yahoo! file photo)

DPM Teo Chee Hean admits that population growth in recent years has outpaced Singapore's infrastructure plans.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Minister Teo said the government has since ramped up infrastructure development in the areas of transport, housing and healthcare and these are "coming on stream progressively".

But he admitted that going forward, Singapore needs to "better manage infrastructure provision with population needs".

DPM Teo was responding to Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh, who had asked how Singapore plans to accommodate 6 million people in the future, a target previously quoted by PM Lee as the total number of people Singapore could afford to accommodate.

Singh had also asked how the new 690,000 arrivals would affect housing prices and how many would comprise of new citizens, permanent residents and non-residents.

Hougang SMC MP Png Eng Huat also asked whether existing infrastructures are adequately designed to support Singapore's current population size, as well as what the target population densities in five, 10 and 15 years' time is.

Singapore's population currently stands at 5.31 million.

Addressing the questions, DPM Teo said the government would be careful to ensure that the country's living environment and economic viability would be key considerations in "determining the sustainable population we want for Singapore in the future."

DPM Teo did not address Png’s questions on population density and whether quality of life would be affected as a result.

In response to WP’s Singh on whether population studies have been carried out to examine Singapore’s ability to support a population of six million, DPM Teo would only say that a White Paper would soon be released from the country’s National Population and Talent Division.

The Paper, which comes after public consultation, will address issues of societal cohesion and Singapore’s population make-up in depth.

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