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    Oct 05, 2016

    S'pore, India to work on smart cities, skills training

    SINGAPORE and India are committed to deepening their bilateral relationship and are keen to work together in several areas such as developing smart cities and skills training, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after meeting with his India counterpart, Narendra Modi yesterday.

    "Singapore remains a firm believer in India and we will continue to contribute, where we can, to India's remarkable development story," PM Lee said at a joint press conference after a closed door meeting with Mr Modi in Hyderabad House, New Delhi.

    PM Lee is in India on a five-day working trip that comes a year after both countries elevated their ties to that of a Strategic Partnership.

    In brief remarks after what he described as an in-depth and wide-ranging discussion, Mr Lee said there is a growing optimism about India's prospects due to the dynamic leadership and clear vision of Mr Modi.

    "Singapore is happy to support India's efforts to transform its economy, and to give India's youth the skills they need," said Mr Lee, referring to Mr Modi's campaign to train over 400 million people by 2022.

    Addressing areas of cooperation between both countries, Mr Modi said "Singapore does today what the rest of the world will do tomorrow", and this strength of Singapore can be combined with India's scale.

    Both sides have agreed to expedite a second review of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, and welcomed the issuance of corporate rupee bonds in Singapore which will help India raise capital for infrastructure needs, said Mr Modi.

    Singapore is looking to expand its network of skills training centres in India.

    There are two such centres so far: one in New Delhi and another one focusing on tourism in the popular destination of Udaipur, Rajasthan, which PM Lee will launch tomorrow.

    The newest centre, called the North East Skills Centre, will be in the north-eastern state of Assam.

    A memorandum of understanding was signed by ITE Education Services and the Assam state government before the joint press conference.

    ITE Education Services and India's National Skills Development Corporation also signed a memorandum of understanding to develop advanced skills training programmes.

    Singapore is also contributing towards the development of smart cities in India, said PM Lee.

    It is involved in the master plan for Andhra Pradesh's new capital city, Amaravati, and a consortium of Singapore firms, including Sembcorp Development and Ascendas-Singbridge, is bidding to be the master developer for the project.

    At the meeting yesterday, both leaders also discussed furthering Singapore and India's strong economic ties, for instance, by setting up a Finance Dialogue between the finance ministries of both countries.

    On the Singapore side, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be appointed for the task.

    India will appoint Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

    Singapore was one of India's largest sources of foreign direct investment last year, and more than 8,000 Indian companies are in Singapore, said Mr Lee.