Singapore Update: November 30, 2017

Singapore Update | November 30, 2017
Authors: Shay Wester, Riley Smith, Ian Saccomanno, and Natalie McDaniel
December 11: Welcome Lunch for Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez
Monetary Authority of Singapore Releases New Draft Payment Services Bill
On November 21, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) released the second revision of its draft payments services bill for public comment. The Bill would update Singaporean law to account for new developments in the payments industry that have introduced new payments models that are beyond the scope of current law or that have blurred the lines between activities regulated under the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act of 2006 (Cap. 222A) and the Money-Changing and Remittance Businesses Act of 1979 (Cap. 187). The Bill’s regulatory streamlining and updates would also support the MAS industry transformation map’s goal of encouraging innovation and fintech development (additional coverage is in the November 15 Update at this link). The Bill would combine the PS(O)A and the MCRBA to establish a single payments regulation and license, expand regulations to cover new payments techniques like domestic money transfers and cryptocurrency, and adopt a more risk-weighted regulatory approach. The Consultation Paper and other documents can be found at this link. Public comments are due by January 8.
Following the closure of the public consultation period for the proposed Cybersecurity Bill, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) published on November 13 a report clarifying certain aspects of the bill and summarizing the intended revisions. Among other things, CSA has clarified that:
  • "[C]omputer systems in the supply chain supporting the operation of a Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) will not be designated as CIIs, therefore third-party vendors will not be considered as owners of CIIs";
  • it will explore administrative arrangements to facilitate voluntary information sharing, but remained silent on whether such voluntary sharing will be protected; and
  • the licensing regime will apply only to organizations (and not individuals), will be further simplified and will be brought into effect at a much later date after further consultation with stakeholders on the detailed requirements.
MCI and CSA stated that they will continue to consult industry before issuing additional obligations and standards. The Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in early 2018. The Council's joint submission with BSA | The Software Alliance is available here, and notes from our meetings with CSA on August 22 and October 12 can be found here and here, respectively.

Food & Agriculture
Maliki Osman urges region to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices

Health & Life Sciences
MOH tweaking rules to improve healthcare
Ministry of Health to introduce fee benchmarks for medical procedures
Healthcare sector hit by startup losses in Q3
Singapore Wants To Add Biotech Hub To Its List Of Accomplishments
Healthcare Industry Transformation Map for a Future-Ready Healthcare System

Self-driving buses, shuttles to be tested in 3 towns from 2022
Singapore to launch first digital trade platform for SMEs using blockchain technology
Singapore’s draft Cybersecurity Bill tweaked to include public feedback
Telcos hit by falling data subscription rates
Here's why Singaporeans' trust in digital services is low
Singapore still vulnerable to cybercrime amidst Smart Nation plans

Singapore's manufactured products price index up 2.1% in October
Singapore's manufacturing output rose 14.6% in October
Guidelines for smart factories launched as manufacturers gear up for Industry 4.0
Regional Affairs

Zhejiang sees Singapore as base for Belt and Road ventures into South-east Asia The Straits Times 30th Nov 2017
One is a Chinese behemoth, with its regional headquarters in Singapore. The other is a homegrown outfit, which today has a presence in China and across the Asia Pacific. Instead of competing, the two logistics firms, Forchn Holdings and Singapore firm YCH Group, see complementary strengths in teaming up to expand across South-east Asia. They hope to leverage on China's Belt and Road Initiative to link up Asia with much of the world through massive infrastructure projects. To underscore the potential benefits, Zhejiang province has named Singapore as one of its first three overseas stations to help its companies expand abroad. Singapore is the first station for the e-commerce-focused province that major Chinese firms such as Alibaba and Net Ease call home, with the other two stations being in Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr Zhang Guobiao, who will lead the Singapore station, said the city state provides a face that is "easier for all to accept" for a Chinese firm looking at overseas expansion. Singapore's good global reputation and wide network of relationships also make it an attractive springboard to go international from, he added.

National Affairs

Speculated GST hike could boost e-commerce tax Singapore Business Review 30th Nov 2017
RHB Research said an increase of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) could mean higher tax for e-commerce businesses and slower growth for consumer discretionary firms. A possible GST hike was the talk of the town last week after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore will be raising taxes to support growing government spending. Previously, the GST was raised by 2 ppts to 7% on 1 July 2007. Similar to 1994, consumers shopped ahead of time. June's retail sales index shot up 15.3% YoY, followed by a decline of 2% YoY in July. Spending behaviour soon normalised in August. For the 12 months following the GST hike, retail sales were up by 3.6% YoY. Based on historical records, consumer discretionary, comprised of furniture & household equipment, recreational goods, watches & jewellery, apparel & footwear, and food retailers typically saw a slowdown in growth or declining sales in the 12 months following a GST hike. Meanwhile, consumer staples – supermarkets, mini-marts & convenience stores and department stores – were fairly resilient against GST hikes in the past.

Higher taxes loom for the next two years in Singapore Singapore Business Review 28th Nov 2017
Goods and Services Tax (GST) will rise by 2 ppt to cover primary deficit which is expected to hit $3.5b. After the government hinted at the need to raise taxes, DBS forecasted the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be raised by 2 ppt to cover primary and basic deficits. It said in an analysis that Singapore registered three consecutive years of a deficit in the primary balance. The primary deficit for 2017 is expected to hit $3.5b, which is 1.3% of the GDP and could be the deepest on record. This explains the need to find new sources of revenue. Moreover, social expenditure will need to rise at a faster pace as the population continues to age. Higher expenditure will challenge the fiscal position unless more revenue can be generated, especially given the Net Investment Returns Contribution limitations. This also explains why the government had to price scarce resources more efficiently, tap on new sources of tax revenues, and reduce operating expenditure. Beyond that, hikes in tax rates will be inevitable. Of the three key major tax options, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is most likely to be raised in Budget 2018.


Singapore suspends commercial trade with North Korea NK News 15th Nov 2017
The Singaporean government suspended trading commercial goods with North Korea in early November, a circular issued by the country’s customs service has shown. Commercial trade will be blocked “regardless of whether they are imported, exported, transhipped or brought in transit through Singapore.” “We wish to inform you that with effect from 8 Nov 2017, Singapore will prohibit all commercially traded goods (exchanged for money or barter traded) from or to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” Singapore Customs said in the circular. The circular was sent to traders and declaring agents on November 7.

Defense & Security

India, Singapore set to sign naval cooperation pact tomorrow Outlook India 28th Nov 2017
ndia and Singapore are set to sign a key pact tomorrow to boost naval cooperation, even as the city-state's defence minister expressed reservation over the proposed quadrilateral coalition among India, the US, Japan and Australia for pursuing common interests in the Indo-Pacific region. India's Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Singaporen counterpart Ng Eng Hen will hold wide-ranging talks tomorrow after which both sides are likely to ink an agreement providing for logistic support and live firing exercises to Singapore Navy in the Andamans, officials said.

Singapore Launches Two New Warships The Diplomat 14th Nov 2017
On Tuesday, Singapore commissioned two more of its new locally built and designed warships. The vessels, which were unveiled at a high profile ceremony, represent another step in the country’s naval modernization, which has been in the spotlight as the Republic of Singapore Navy marks its fiftieth anniversary this year.

Singapore, Malaysia Agree New Army Talks After Military Exercise The Diplomat 25th Nov 2017
On November 25, the armies of Singapore and Malaysia carried out this year’s iteration of their flagship exercise. Apart from the usual components of the drills, this edition also saw the start of new army-to-army talks between the services in a boost for military cooperation. As I have noted before in these pages, though Malaysia and Singapore have had a rather prickly relationship in the past and problems do arise in ties from time to time, their militaries interact regularly through various bilateral exchanges and exercises as well as under multilateral arrangements, from Exercise Malapura to the Eyes-in-the-Sky combined air patrols to enhance maritime security in the Straits of Malacca.

Singapore, Brunei Conclude Military Exercise The Diplomat 13th Nov 2017
From November 10 to November 13, Singapore and Brunei concluded another iteration of their flagship naval exercise, Exercise Pelican. The interaction put the focus on the bilateral defense relationship between the two Southeast Asian states.


Domestic supply price index up 3.5% in October Singapore Business Review 30th Nov 2017
Singapore's domestic supply price index (DSPI) rose 3.5% YoY in October, the Department of Statistics (SingStat) revealed. The oil and non-oil indices rose 13.4% and 0.4%, respectively. Four commodities showed higher prices, led by manufactured goods at 5.8%, followed by chemicals & chemical products at 3.6%, crude materials at 0.9%, and food & live animals at 0.6%. They were partially offset by price decreases in four commodities, led by machinery & transport equipment with 1.4%, beverages & tobacco with 1.4%, animal & vegetable oils with 0.9%, and miscellaneous manufactured articles with 0.6%. On a monthly basis, the DSPI went up 1.1%, lower than the 1.6% increase in the previous month. The DSPI measures changes in the prices of goods manufactured either locally or imported which are retained for use in the domestic economy.

Singapore's import and export price indices up in October Singapore Business Review 30th Nov 2017
Singapore's import price index rose 3.2% YoY, whilst its export price index went up 1.1% YoY in October, the Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat) revealed. For imports, oil and non-oil indices rose 13.4% and 0.6%, respectively. Five commodities showed higher prices, led by manufactured goods at 5.8%, followed by crude materials at 3.5%, chemicals & chemical products at 2.9%, beverages & tobacco at 0.5%, and food & live animals at 0.3%. These were partially moderated by lower prices of three commodities. Miscellaneous manufactured articles fell 1%, animal & vegetable oils dropped 0.4%, whilst machinery & transport equipment went down 0.2%. For exports, the oil index jumped 15.1%, whilst the non-oil index slipped 1.5%. Prices of beverages & tobacco dipped 4%, machinery & transport fell 3.1%, food & live animals went down 2.4%, and miscellaneous manufactured articles dropped 0.4%. Meanwhile, these decreases were offset by higher prices of crude materials at 10.9%, manufactured goods at 3.7%, chemicals & chemical products at 2%, and animal & vegetable oils at 0.5%.

Singapore's 5.2% GDP growth is not sustainable: Morgan Stanley Singapore Business Review 27th Nov 2017
The growth of pharmaceutical production, which supported the GDP, is considered lumpy and volatile. Singapore's 5.2% GDP growth is not sustainable, Morgan Stanley said. The strong GDP print was largely driven by higher manufacturing output as well as inventory buildup, which was caused by a sharp rebound in pharmaceuticals. However, pharmaceutical production is considered "typically lumpy and volatile." Manufacturing momentum is yet to normalize, but it should remain at a healthy level as it heads into 2018. Capital expenditure has stayed tepid, mainly due to weak private construction activity, which was, in turn, driven by the moribund property market. However, private construction activities should pick up as the property market recovers and the number of en bloc transactions rise, spurring building works. The government is also planning to spend $1.4b for public projects next year to boost the construction sector. Private consumption has also seen a slight turnaround, which went up 0.6% YoY in 2016. Speculations of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate hike appeared after the prime minister said there is a need to raise tax revenue. Overall, Morgan Stanley remains bullish on Singapore's economy thanks to more conducive external environment and a broader property market recovery. It raised its GDP growth forecast to 2.7% next year and 2.9% in 2019.

S'pore upgrades 2017 GDP forecast; moderation expected next year The Business Times 24th Nov 2017
STRONGER-than-expected growth, expanding exports and benign inflation are all coming together to paint a very different picture of the economy that had started the year on an uncertain note. Singapore's economy is on track for an impressive finish this year, lifted by an improved global outlook and a stronger pickup in electronics, even though economists expect growth to moderate in the coming year due to possible tapering in semiconductor demand and the slowdown of key markets such as China. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) upgraded Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for 2017 to 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, up from an earlier estimate of 2 to 3 per cent. Despite the GDP growth upgrade, the core and headline inflation forecasts remain unchanged. The current neutral monetary policy stance thus "remains appropriate", said Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Singapore economy grows 5.2% in Q3, fastest in nearly 4 years; 2017 forecast raised to 3-3.5% The Straits Times 23rd Nov 2017
Singapore's economy performed much better than expected this year due mostly to a strong showing in electronics, prompting the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) to upgrade its 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast on Thursday morning (Nov 23). Full-year GDP growth is now expected to be 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent. This is up from an earlier estimate of 2 per cent to 3 per cent, with the final figure expected to come in at the upper end of the range previously. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that its forecasts for core and headline inflation remain unchanged. Therefore, its current neutral monetary policy stance announced in October 2017 remains the same, said MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh.

Singapore bucks slow productivity trend Singapore Business Review 16th Nov 2017
Productivity slowdown is being observed around the world, due to drivers like weak investment, ageing populations, and falling wages. However, Singapore could be one of the countries managing to buck against the trend, Standard Chartered (SC) said. According to its research, Singapore joined other developed markets (DM) at the top of its Productivity Drivers Index. It grabbed the eighth place, making it one of the Asian economies that have "strong productivity drivers." The main index ranked countries based on their scores in sub-indices such as total factor productivity (TFP) growth, change in score for regulatory reforms, services potential, investment/GDP, and ICOR. In terms of TFP growth, it ranked 21st. Meanwhile, Singapore ranked 11th in terms of change in regulatory reforms. Its score in 2007-2008 against its score in 2014-2015 changed by +0.26, mainly boosted by a +1.17 in business regulations. The Lion City ranked the highest in SC's services potential sub-index at third place. It had the highest score for five categories, namely FDI and technology transfer, higher education, labour market efficiency, financial market development, and government efficiency. Meanwhile, Singapore ranked sixth in terms of its investment/GDP. Lastly, Singapore ranked 10th in terms of incremental capital output ratio (ICOR).

Financial Services

Asian banks’ operating income could be hit by fintech disruption: MAS Channel NewsAsia 30th Nov 2017
Asian banks that do not take any action against the rise of financial technology (fintech) could see their operating income take a hit, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Thursday (Nov 30) in its latest Financial Stability Review. For lenders in Singapore that do nothing to stave off the disruption, that could mean a 5 per cent loss in operating income over the next five years, the central bank warned. The rise of fintech has stiffened competition in the payments, as well as the deposit and lending business. The former has seen more fintech companies offer payment options that compete directly with debit and credit cards issued by banks. Meanwhile, in the deposit and lending space, lower set-up costs have allowed fintech players to offer more attractive deposit rates. Such competition poses a threat to incumbent banks by eroding their deposit funding base.

Singapore to assist Myanmar's accountancy sector Singapore Business Review 29th Nov 2017
The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants will also train accountants on micro accounting. The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Myanmar Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) to co-develop Myanmar's accountancy profession. According to a press release, capability-building programmes will be implemented. The programmes will include training on Principles of Accounting, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), IFRS for SMEs, and continuous professional education classes on topical issues and trends. ISCA will also conduct training on the ISCA Audit Manual and Micro Accounting Model. ISCA developed the Micro Accounting Model (MAM) to provide micro entities in emerging and developing countries with a framework to transit from cash accounting to accrual accounting and to prepare reliable financial statements. Myanmar and Singapore can also look forward to more new business opportunities as efforts have been made to help small and medium practices (SMPs) from both sides to interact and build professional networks, ISCA said.

Mobile wallets linked to credit cards jumped to 40% Singapore Business Review 28th Nov 2017
Market research firm J.D. Power revealed that the proportion of mobile payments linked to credit cards in Singapore increased from 26% in 2016 to 40% in 2017. According to its 2017 Singapore Credit Card Satisfaction Study, this is despite the fact that security is the main concern of consumers who don't use a mobile wallet. The proportions in other countries hit 41% in Hong Kong, 23% in the United States, and 14% in Australia. The study revealed that 79% of cardholders are under a rewards programme. Satisfaction of these customers is 31 points higher than those who are not under a rewards programme. In addition, cardholders under a rewards programme spend 29% more at $1,035 a month than those who do not have such a programme at $802 a month. However, only 26% of cardholders completely understand how to earn and redeem through the rewards programme.

Monetary Authority of Singapore issues consultation on Payments bill HiTechFacts 27th Nov 2017
The country’s central bank and monetary authority of Singapore is moving forward to bring many regulations that will deal with retail payment services. This single legislation will also include bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges. With an announcement on Tuesday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore launched the second revision on its payments service bill, a regulatory network designed for payments that will propose to streamline the regulation of all payment services available in the country under a single legislation. The notable bill will also consider the virtual currencies being traded in the country. Many cryptocurrency exchange platforms have evolved in recent times that are operating in the country without any regulatory framework. As a regulator, MAS will have to prevent money laundering and terrorism funding while also safeguarding consumer’s funds.

Singapore Makes a ‘Good Start’ on Its Debt Restructuring Ambitions 22nd Nov 2017
Singapore has made “a good start” in its bid to become a debt restructuring hub in the region, with six workout cases filed before its courts after it adopted U.S. Chapter 11-like incentives in local company laws this year, a senior government official said. Indonesian developer PT Bakrieland Development is set to complete its group restructuring after a plan by its unit BLD Investments Pte. was sanctioned by a local judge earlier this month in the first of such cases. Other publicly disclosed filings involved Attilan Group Ltd., TT International Ltd., EMAS Offshore Ltd. and Nam Cheong Ltd. Singapore, aiming to bolster its position as a center for debt revamps, amended the Companies Act in March, giving worldwide effect for debt moratorium, enabling debtor-in-possession financing, and granting rescue-capital providers super-priority claims on assets over existing creditors. Such features are among the hallmarks of U.S. bankruptcy law.

Singapore to implement single licence requirement for payment firms Singapore Business Review 22nd Nov 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched the second consultation on its proposed payments regulatory framework after making revisions in the Payment Services Bill. After the first public consultation, the regulator said payment firms will only need to hold one licence under a single regulatory framework to conduct any or all specified payment activities. Only payment activities that face customers or merchants, process funds or acquire transactions, and pose relevant regulatory concerns will need to be licenced. Moreover, the new framework will expand the scope of regulation to include domestic money transfers, merchant acquisition, and the purchase and sale of virtual currencies. "To help ensure that the expanded scope of regulation is not onerous, the Bill will differentiate regulatory requirements according to the risks that specific payment activities pose rather than apply a uniform set of regulations on all payment service providers," MAS said. The second public consultation will run from 21 November 2017 to 8 January 2018. MAS also made public consultation papers and policy highlights available on their website.

Payments Council endorses Singapore Quick Response Code specifications for electronic payments Digital News Asia 21st Nov 2017
The first of its kind globally, the SG QR includes protocols customized for Singapore; Will be adopted and deployed by payment services providers through 2018

Singapore, Philippines enter into fintech collaboration deal Singapore Business Review 17th Nov 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) signed a FinTech Cooperation Agreement (CA) at the sidelines of Singapore’s Fintech Festival currently being held on November 13 to 17.

Singapore gets lion share as fintech funding surges in Asean The Business Times 17th Nov 2017
FUNDING for the financial technology sector in Asean is surging, fuelled by the potential of its young and under-banked population. Reflecting Asean's demographics, payments and mobile wallets are attracting the highest level of funding in Asean, registering a tenfold increase from US$8 million in 2012 to US$83 million in 2015, according to a State of FinTech in Asean report.

Singapore financial regulator issues guidance on application of securities laws to digital token offerings OpenGov Asia 17th Nov 2017
Digital token offerings may be regulated if the digital tokens are capital markets products under existing laws. Even otherwise, they may be subject to other legislation for combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

Singapore Regulator Would Consider Trialing Certain ICOs 15th Nov 2017
Singapore’s financial regulator would consider trialling some initial coin offerings in a regulatory sandbox, if such fundraising efforts are by companies focused on new technology that will improve the efficiency of capital markets. The type of digital-token sale that the Monetary Authority of Singapore would consider is one underpinned by technology that improves capital markets, for example smart contracts or something that can build a “smarter” initial public offering, MAS Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty said Wednesday in an interview. Regulators around the world are grappling with how to treat ICOs, which have raised more than $3.5 billion on promises to revolutionize everything from supply chains to the world of finance, but have also attracted its share of scammers.

Singapore backs up its fintech ambitions with new initiatives Financial Times 14th Nov 2017
Singapore’s central bank has launched a batch of initiatives — including helping banks create an industry-wide platform for compliance checks — as the city aims to become a global hub for financial technology. Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, used his opening address to Singapore’s Festival of Finance to unveil 11 fintech initiatives. The announcements came less than a fortnight after the central bank launched a plan to create 3,000 jobs (net) in financial services, and an extra 1,000 annual jobs (net) in the fintech sector.

Food & Agriculture

Maliki Osman urges region to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices Channel NewsAsia 13th Nov 2017
Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman has called on countries in the region to do more to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices. Speaking at the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Dr Maliki said the nations “must continue to encourage progress in the region to reduce unsustainable practices which are detrimental to both the environment and producers”. He also urged leaders to be “sensitised” to the impact of regional conflicts on food production and trade, and to “consider ways to alleviate these”.

Health & Life Sciences

MOH tweaking rules to improve healthcare The Straits Times 16th Nov 2017
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is actively looking at and changing policies, legislation and rules that hinder instead of help in the provision of healthcare. "At the ministry, we sometimes don't know that some of the rules we have can lead to unintended outcomes," said Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat. Instead of the rules working to make things go smoothly, they sometimes disincentivise more appropriate treatment options.

Ministry of Health to introduce fee benchmarks for medical procedures Channel NewsAsia 30th Nov 2017
Patients can soon look up a recommended range of medical fees to help them decide where they should go for a procedure. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will appoint a committee by early next year to come up with fee benchmarks. This is part of the ministry's approach to ensure a sustainable healthcare system in the long term as the nation grapples with manpower constraints and rising costs in the healthcare sector, said Heath Minister Gan Kim Yong at a meeting with journalists on Tuesday (Nov 28). He said that there will be a range of fees that take into account factors such as the complexity of a medical case and the varying expertise of doctors. At present, the public can go on MOH's website to find out what patients pay for certain medical procedures at the various hospitals. Mr Gan also said he does not believe the move is anti-competitive as the fee benchmarks will be set by a committee comprising public and private healthcare institutions and government officials.

Healthcare sector hit by startup losses in Q3 Singapore Business Review 28th Nov 2017
Singapore's healthcare sector has to endure pains from short-term startup costs for long-term gains in Q3, DBS Equity Research revealed. Start-up costs and pre-operating costs of expansion plans hit the numbers for IHH Healthcare Berhad (IHH) in 2017 with the opening of Gleneagles Hong Kong and Acibadem Altunizade Hospital. Singapore Business Review also recently reported IHH's profits crashed 53% due to startup losses from the Hong Kong hospital. Subsequently, this has partially led the market to expect startup loss and pre-operating costs from the opening of hospitals in China by both IHH and Raffles from 2018 onwards.

Singapore Wants To Add Biotech Hub To Its List Of Accomplishments Forbes 20th Nov 2017
Singapore has made a mark in a range of industries recently. It's been named a top city for startups, a leading smart city, a spacetech hub, and it's internationally known as one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. But it can now add emerging medtech and biotech hub to that list. As of 2016, Singapore's medtech industry was worth more than $ 3 billion USD, and the government aims to grow the sector considerably. The country already hosts a number of international medtech manufacturers and facilitates public-private partnerships for companies looking to connect with academics and researchers in their areas of expertise. Singapore also serves as a gateway to the broader Asia-Pacific market, which offers high growth potential in the next several years, making it particularly attractive to startups and global multinationals alike. Both find a favorable welcome in the city-state, which in the past has pledged tens of millions of dollars to medtech startups operating there.

Healthcare Industry Transformation Map for a Future-Ready Healthcare System Ministry of Health 8th Nov 2017
Better Skills, Better Work and Better Care  Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong launched the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map (ITM) today.  A tripartite effort, the ITM maps out strategies to steer the healthcare industry and workforce towards better skills and better work so that they can deliver better care for Singaporeans.


Self-driving buses, shuttles to be tested in 3 towns from 2022 Channel NewsAsia 22nd Nov 2017
Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District will be the first areas in Singapore to have self-driving buses and shuttles plying their roads come 2022.

Singapore to launch first digital trade platform for SMEs using blockchain technology The Business Times 17th Nov 2017
SINGAPORE's first blockchain-based digital trade platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be ready, come the first quarter of 2018. Called the Fasttrack Trade (FTT), the platform is a partnership between Prudential Singapore and Starhub. It is being developed by fintech startup Cites Gestion with funding from Prudential.

Singapore’s draft Cybersecurity Bill tweaked to include public feedback Channel NewsAsia 13th Nov 2017
In a joint press release on Monday (Nov 13), the authorities said respondents generally shared the Government’s concerns on the impact of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks which could potentially cause major disruptions or cripple the country’s economy. As a result, the agencies said they intend to refine the Bill in several aspects.

Telcos hit by falling data subscription rates Singapore Business Review 23rd Nov 2017
Singapore’s telcos need to scramble for more opportunities to monetise their offerings as mobile penetration growth rate already hit 149%, causing the number of new subscribers to decline. According to OCBC Investment Research, as a result, mobile revenue could fall by 13.6% between 2016 and 2021 for all telcos. However, there has been an upward trend in Singapore's data usage. M1 saw an increase from 3.6GB in 4Q2016 to 4.2GB in 3Q2017, whilst Starhub recorded an increase from 3.7GB in 4Q2016 to 4.5GB in 3Q2017. Singtel also posted an increase from 3.2GB in 4Q2016 to 3.6GB in 3Q2017. OCBC expects the upward trend of data usage to continue ahead. "Without a doubt, it remains unclear at this point in time on how best to monetize data usage given the impending entry of TPG as well as the announced intention of MR to launch mobile services as well," said OCBC analyst Eugene Chua. Chua added that the ability to monetise data will be a key focus for all the players in the telecom industry. "For the period CY16 to CY21, we forecast for postpaid mobile ARPUs of Singtel, Starhub and M1 to register CAGR of -2.4%, -3.4% and -4.3%, respectively," Chua said. 

Here's why Singaporeans' trust in digital services is low Singapore Business Review 15th Nov 2017
Despite advanced fraud management systems, Singaporeans find it hard to trust digital services providers, according to the Experian-IDC Digital Trust Index (DTI). The report said Singapore scored only 2.3 out of 10, lower than Asia Pacific's 3.2. Singapore is the second to the last market in terms of digital trust. New Zealand topped the rankings with a score of 4.2, followed by Japan with 4.1. Consumers in Indonesia showed the least digital trust levels amongst the countries with a score of 1.8. Singapore, which would be expected to have a high trust score due to their advanced fraud management systems, lagged due to a low tolerance for fraud and perceptions that firms do not handle post-fraud experiences well. Its trust score for financial institutions hit 3.10. It gave lower scores for the telecommunication sector with 1.97, and retailers with 1.84.

Singapore still vulnerable to cybercrime amidst Smart Nation plans Singapore Business Review 15th Nov 2017
The Singapore government has launched Smart Nation plans to increase productivity, but their implementation is still likely to cause mixed results, BMI Research said. According to the firm's analysis, programmes that are aimed at developing data analytics capabilities and cybersecurity, as well as efforts to harness data to improve productivity, are longer term goals that will take Singapore time to develop due to the lack of trained human capital. Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself said that there was a worldwide shortage of engineers, programmers, data analysts, and technicians, and he spoke of the need to build up Singapore's talent pool. Moreover, the Lion City remains vulnerable to cybercrime due to its status as a financial hub. It scored 83.5 in BMI Research's Financial and Cybercrime sub-index, not far off from the Asian average of 83.4. BMI Research said the economy relies heavily on Internet-based interactions, so security and stability and highly important for the country.


Singapore's manufactured products price index up 2.1% in October Singapore Business Review 30th Nov 2017
The Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat) revealed that the manufactured products price index (SMPPI) rose by 2.1% YoY in October. The oil and non-oil indices went up by 12.9% and 0.2%, respectively. Amongst the non-oil sub-indices, five commodities recorded higher prices. Prices of chemicals & chemical products rose 4.9%, miscellaneous manufactured articles jumped 4.7%, manufactured goods increased 3.6%, animal & vegetable oils rose 1.9%, and crude materials went up 0.9%. These were partially moderated by lower prices of three commodities. Beverages & tobacco fell 4.4%, machinery & transport equipment wore down 3.5%, whilst food & live animals dropped 1.7%. The SMPPI edged up 0.1% MoM in October, compared to the 1.5% increase in September. The SMPPI monitors price changes of locally manufactured commodities. The weights of the index are derived from the distribution of local production by commodity in 2011.

Singapore's manufacturing output rose 14.6% in October Singapore Business Review 24th Nov 2017
Singapore's manufacturing output increased by 14.6% YoY in October 2017, the Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed. The electronics cluster’s output expanded 45.1% YoY largely driven by the semiconductors segment which posted a robust growth of 64.6%. The output of the precision engineering cluster grew 23.6% YoY, supported by a 37.8% increase in the precision modules & components segment. EDB said there was a higher production of dies, moulds, tools, jigs & fixture, optical instruments, and metal precision components. The chemicals cluster’s output also increased 15.0% YoY. The petrochemicals segment grew 33.6%, mainly attributed to the low base in October last year as some plants had their maintenance shut down.

Guidelines for smart factories launched as manufacturers gear up for Industry 4.0 The Straits Times 13th Nov 2017
A new set of guidelines has been launched to help manufacturers here build smart factories of the future and take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - also known as Industry 4.0. The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), in partnership with German manufacturing firm TUV SUD, has launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index. The index serves as a diagnostic tool that companies across all industries and sizes can use to learn about Industry 4.0, evaluate the state of their facilities and develop a transformation roadmap. Industry 4.0 refers to the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This creates what has been called a "smart factory", where highly-skilled staff work seamlessly alongside robots.