Singapore plans a happy face for IMF-WBank delegates

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

SINGAPORE, Sept 8, 2006 (AFP) – Singapore, which has been criticized for its cold efficiency and indifferent service, is putting on a happy face as it prepares to host its biggest international conference. “There’s always a misconception that here is not always a vibrant place,” said Goh. “In fact the city has a lot of offerings. So we want them to enjoy their stay here.”

– by Bernice Han The authorities are asking the entire population to show “four million smiles” when 16,000 VIPs converge here for a week-long gathering culminating in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings on September 19-20.

The main business district where the meetings will take place has been given a major makeover: streets have been spruced up with new plants, and bridges and pavements given a fresh coat of paint.

A national “Four Million Smiles” project was launched in June to encourage Singaporeans and resident expatriates to submit photographs which will be fused into a large digital mural to welcome delegates.

“Our reputation is on the line,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised speech last month.

“It’s bigger than anything we have done so let’s work together to make it the