Friday, June 1, 2007

F1 race in Singapore will not harm the environment

There will be measures in place to make sure the F1 race in Singapore will not harm the environment.Minister of State for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, said this to reporters at the Great Singapore Sale Challenge.

He said that noise and smoke are inevitable during the race, but organisers are studying ways to minimise their effect.

Mr Iswaran said F1 organisers have been undertaking various research efforts to keep the race green like adopting bio-fuel, for example.

He said: "The environmental concerns are legitimate. But you must keep them in perspective. You can't have an F1 race without noise. The cars make a lot of noise. In fact, it is part of the thrill for many fans and spectators.

"But having said that, the F1 organisation is based in Europe where environmental consciousness is very high and they, as an organisation, have undertaken many measures to make sure they are minimising their carbon footprint, if not making it zero their carbon footprint. That's one part we should be paying attention to."

"The other element is that they are also undertaking various research efforts, for example in bio fuel and so on, to see how that can be adapted. So although the F1 is seen, at least in first blush, it might be anti-environment, there are many things they are doing that is actually pro environment," added Mr Iswaran.

The race is set to generate $100 million for Singapore each year.

But many question whether the returns are big enough for the government to fund 60% in organising the $150 million race.

Mr Iswaran said: "Without STB (Singapore Tourism Board)'s support, an F1 race in Singapore will probably not happen. And, the reason is very simple.
The economics of the race is such that the cost of hosting a F1 race in any country far exceeds the revenue a private race promoter can expect to get from ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship.

"So the spillover benefits to the economy are very large, whether it is tourism spending or consumer spending or business activity. But the private promoters cannot take advantage of that. So that's where STB involvement comes in."

"If STB is able to support this at a level comparable to the benefits for tourism and the economy, then it is justifiable. There are also mechanisms in place to ensure that if in fact the race is very successful, very profitable, then, profits beyond a certain pre-agreed level between STB and Singapore Grand Prix Pte Ltd will be ploughed back to defray the cost, in other words, to reduce the government grant," he added.

Mr Iswaran also defended the government's decision to impose extra tax for hotels during the F1.
He said that based on market studies, unlike restaurants and pubs, hotels rates are expected to go up 3 times during the race.
Additional revenue to the government from the restaurants will come in the form of GST and other taxes already in place. - CNA/ir

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