Singapore could have 7m people by 2030

Current trends suggest a 32% jump in population, says DBS Vickers
Straits Times 19 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE'S population could hit seven million in about 20 years - up from five million now - if current growth trends continue, a research house says.

DBS Vickers said yesterday that the population is growing faster than it had earlier anticipated.

It said current trends suggest a jump of 32 per cent by 2030, from the current 5.3 million.

DBS Vickers, which specialises in equity research, made these forecasts in a report that gave stock picks on the listing companies likely to benefit most from a much larger population size.

Singapore's population grew by 2.4 per cent a year between 2009 and 2012, faster than the 1.5 per cent growth DBS Vickers had projected back in 2009.

The strong rate of growth was all the more surprising given that the Republic went through a recession in 2009, it said.

"In the previous (severe acute respiratory syndrome) downturn, Singapore saw negative non-resident growth for two years in a row, in 2002 and 2003," it noted.

DBS Vickers said it is also expecting the Government to raise its population planning parameters from the previous 6.5 million to seven million as well, when a Population White Paper is released later this month.

"There will likely be no mention of timeframe, but in our base scenario, we are projecting it to reach seven million by 2030, implying average growth of 1.5 per cent per annum."

DBS Vickers also expects the White Paper to focus substantially on falling birth rates and the ageing population.

The topic of Singapore's rising population has been a hot issue in recent years, with calls made by several sectors of society for the Government to moderate the flow of people to the Republic.

In turn, the Government has committed to ramping up a range of infrastructure projects, including public housing and transport.

Yesterday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said there will be as many as 200,000 new homes by 2016.

On Thursday, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the Government intends to double the rail network by 2030.

But while these projects could signal that the Government is preparing for a larger population, Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Chua Hak Bin did not think those moves mean it is preparing to raise its planning parameters.

"I think the Government was caught flat-footed before when the population surged in the past five years," he said. "So they are now simply preparing for a scenario where Singapore could see that kind of size."