Singapore will establish an R&D Trust Fund to boost thecountry’s spending on research and development, Lee Hsien Loong,Singapore’s prime minister and finance minister, announced Fridayduring the annual budget speech to the country’s Parliament.

Singapore will invest S$5 billion (US$3.1 billion) over five yearsin the R&D Trust Fund, which will be administered bySingapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), Lee said. Thegovernment will inject S$500 million in the fund as part of itsbudget for the coming financial year, he said.

“To develop new capabilities, we must support projects on asustained basis, buffering them from the vagaries of year to yearbudgetary pressures, and judging results over several years,” Leesaid, according to a written copy of his speech.

The creation of the fund is an important step to raise Singapore’sspending on R&D from 2.3 percent of gross domestic product(GDP) in 2004 to 3 percent by 2010, Lee said. “As worthwhileprojects emerge, many of which will be multiyear commitments, wecan tap on this fund to support them,” he said.

Lee also announced plans to upgrade Singapore’s broadband networks,saying the country needed to keep pace with advances in technologyand similar investments being made by other countries. “In today’sworld, a national broadband network is basic infrastructure and asource of competitive advantage,” Lee said, noting that 52 percentof Singaporean homes currently have broadband Internetaccess..

Lee did not announce technical details of the planned networkupgrade during his speech, but he said the Singaporean governmentwould develop the network over several years in partnership withprivate industry.

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