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Establishment of the Development Bank of Singapore 16th Jul 1968

The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) was officially incorporated on 16 July 1968 and commenced operation on 1 September that same year.[1] The bank’s main functions were to provide loans and financial assistance to the manufacturing and processing industries in Singapore, as well as to assist in establishing new industries and upgrading existing ones. In addition, the bank contributed to the general development of the economy by supporting projects from the Urban Renewal Programme and various tourist schemes.[2] DBS offered medium- and long-term loans, equity participation and the guarantee of loans raised by entrepreneurs from other sources. DBS also conducted commercial banking operations aimed at supplementing the services provided by existing commercial banks.[3]

The idea of creating a development bank in Singapore was first mentioned in the report of the United Nations (UN) Industrial Survey Mission to Singapore. The UN mission, headed by Dutch economist Albert Winsemius, was invited by the government in 1960 to assess Singapore’s economic situation and recommend ways for the government to speed up its industrialisation programme. In its report, the UN mission, among other things, proposed the setting up of an economic body to lead Singapore’s industrialisation programme. The body would not only proactively attract foreign investments into Singapore, but also provide industrial financing and manage industrial estates.[4] However, as the UN report also pointed out, the financing responsibility of the economic body should eventually be transferred to a development bank.[5]

The economic body that was established was the Economic Development Board (EDB), which was formed on 1 August 1961 to plan, co-ordinate and direct the industrialisation of Singapore.[6] By 1967, the increasing need for industrial capital resulted in the formation of the DBS to take over the financial functions of the EDB.[7] The bank’s president and first chairman was Hon Sui Sen, who was concurrently the chairman of the EDB.[8]

1. Development Bank of Singapore Ltd. (1969). First annual report 1968 (p. 4). Singapore: Development Bank of Singapore Ltd. Call no.: RCLOS 332.12095957 DBSLAR.
2. Development Bank of Singapore Ltd, 1969, p. 4.  
3. Development Bank of Singapore Ltd, 1969, p. 4.  
4. United Nations. (1963). A proposed industrialization programme for the State of Singapore (pp. 1–3, 118–123). Singapore: U.N. Commissioner for Technical Assistance, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs. Call no.: RCLOS 338.095951 UNI.
5. United Nations, 1963, p. 123.
6. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1961, May 24). Second Reading of the Economic Development Board Bill (Vol. 14, cols. 1516–1531). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
7. Economic Development Board. (1968). Economic Development Board annual report 1967. (p. 17). Singapore: Malaya Pub. House. Call no.: RCLOS 338.95957 SIN.
8. Chia, P. (1968, October 2). This bank’s main business: Loans to manufacturers. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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