Parliament of Singapore Passes Cybersecurity Act 2018
The Parliament of Singapore passed the Cybersecurity Act 2018 on February 5. The act is aimed at strengthening the protection of computer systems that provide essential services against cyber-attacks. The act defines essential services as services related to energy, info-communications, water, healthcare, banking and finance, security and emergency services, transport (includes Land, Maritime and Aviation), media, and government. Computer systems directly involved in the provision of these essential services for national security, defence, foreign relations, economy, public health, public safety or public order are referred to as Critical Information Infrastructure (CII).
The Cybersecurity Act seeks to establish a legal framework for the oversight and maintenance of national cybersecurity in Singapore, with an emphasis on the proactive and routine protection of CII against cyber-attacks. It will authorize the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents, as well as establish a licensing framework for cybersecurity service providers (penetration testing and managed security operations center monitoring). Owners of CII must comply with codes of practice and standards of performance, conduct cyber security audits and risk assessments, and participate in cybersecurity exercises under the act.
Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, said that, to assist CII owners and their staff in getting ready for the implementation of the act, CSA has developed a Cybersecurity Legislation Initialisation Programme for Sector Leads (CLIPS). CLIPS will focus on providing clarity on the roles and responsibilities between the sector regulators and the CII owners, and identifying and resolving any operational issues pertaining to the respective sectors. The CSA has said that it will also hold closed-door consultations with industry stakeholders when drafting the implementing regulations, in order to ensure that laws remain robust and relevant.
In 2017 the Council submitted joint comments (prepared with BSA | The Software Alliance) during the public consultation period for the act and then met with officials from CSA to discuss the submission. 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. A Council’s Take that looks more closely at the whether the Council’s comments were incorporated into the final version of the Cybersecurity Act will be published in next week’s ICT Update.
K.T. McFarland’s Nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Withdrawn
On February 5, 2018, the administration of President Donald Trump officially withdrew K.T. McFarland’s nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. McFarland was first nominated for the position by the White House in May 2017. Even though she was voted out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in mid-September, her nomination did not come for a vote in the full Senate, reportedly due to concerns over testimony that she gave to the Committee during her nomination hearing in July. The Senate returned her nomination when last year’s Congressional session ended without full vote on it. In January 2018, the White House re-submitted her name along with 75 other administrative nominations for confirmation by the Senate. After further delay to her nomination in the Senate, McFarland wrote to the President on February 2, asking that he withdraw her nomination.
Implementation of Industry Transformation Maps Likely to Focus on Overlaps Between Sectors
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on January 31 that clustering industries and looking at possible overlaps between sectors may be the direction for the next phase of the Industry Transformation Programme. He cautioned against thinking of the 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) that comprise the program as “just another set of vertical silos” and said that during the implementation of the ITMs the government will aim to help companies internationalize across sectors.
The S$4.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) Industry Transformation Programme was introduced in Singapore’s 2016 budget with the goal of fostering increased innovation and competition in the 23 chosen industries through
• Integrating different restructuring efforts;
• Utilizing more targeted and sector-focused measures;
• Deepening industry-to-government and industry-to-industry partnerships;
• Further emphasizing the critical roles of technology and innovation.
The 23 industries are grouped into 6 clusters that collectively account for up to 80%of the economy. As of January, 18 out of the 23 ITMs have been launched, and Government of Singapore expects all ITMs to be launched by March of this year.The Ministry of Transport recently launched its Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM), which aims to make Singapore a global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation, and talent. According to Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, Lam Pi Min, this will translate to a growth of $4.5 billion in the sector’s real value-added and more than 5,000 jobs by 2025. The maritime sector already contributes to seven percent of Singapore’s GDP and employs over 170,000 people. The ITM’s launch also saw the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and various other partners. Underscoring the emphasis on technology and innovation, one of the MOUs that was signed between Singapore Customs, Singapore Shipping Association, and MPA covers the digitalization of trade and maritime documents, as well as the potential use of blockchain technology. Another MOU – this time between MPA, the Singapore Shipping Association, and start-up Glee Tree – covers the development of a robotic process automation technology in the ship agency sector that could potentially lead to automation in previously manual processes, such as data extraction, entry, and validation.
Despite the Government of Singapore’s intention to focus on the ITMs to drive inter- and intra-sector innovation, private sector representatives have expressed less confidence in the ITMs. One issue the private sector has raised is the ITMs’ lack of horizontal links to other industries. Minister Heng responded to such concerns when he said that it is important to realize synergy in sectors where there are overlaps, for example between real estate and retail. He is expected to include more details on how the ITMs could potentially support cross-industry collaborations in the upcoming Budget 2018 speech, which is slated to be given on February 19.
Ambassador Mirpuri talks about Singapore's priorities as ASEAN chair
On February 1, Meridian International Center hosted a roundtable with H.E. Ashok Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore to the United States. At the roundtable, Ambassador Mirpuri outlined key focus areas for Singapore under the themes of innovation and resilience.
- Singapore will continue its efforts to build a smart nation, and looks forward to creating a network of smart cities in ASEAN that will pull ASEAN together.
- Despite disparities amongst ASEAN countries in terms of infrastructure, the Ambassador said that it is still necessary to come up with a roadmap or framework on how different countries can build up smart cities in the region together, for example, establishing common rules on roaming for mobile services in the region.
- With regards to resilience, the Ambassador said that it would be important to focus on addressing cybersecurity concerns amid digital transformation of economies as well as addressing external threats from terrorism, as evidenced from the security situation in Marawi.
The points emphasized by Amb. Mirpuri align with the top economic priority on which the Government of Singapore has said it would focus during its ASEAN Chairmanship year. Earlier, during the Singapore Business Federation’s ASEAN Networking Night on January 17, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang laid out Singapore’s other economic priorities for 2018. These other priorities are:
- To facilitate trade by continuing with efforts to implement regional schemes such as the ASEAN Single Window;
- To deepen service integration in ASEAN and reduce obstacles to investment;
- To seek greater energy security through a conducive regulatory environment, the promotion of cooperation, and efforts to build up energy efficiency and renewable energy capabilities;
- To deepen ties between ASEAN and its external partners.
Singapore proposes 'Asean Smart Cities Network' Bangkok Post 5th Feb 2018
The city-state is proposing an "Asean Smart Cities Network" aimed at improving the urban living environment and enhancing business opportunities for Southeast Asia's 630 million people, according to a document prepared for ministerial meetings being held in the city-state this week. For this week's meetings of the 10-member Asean, which Singapore now chairs, Singapore has prepared a seven-page proposal that details the outlines, scope and timeline on how smart cities in the region could work. The document says most of Asean's growth has been, and will continue to be, driven by urban centres, with 90 million more people expected to urbanise by 2030 and "middleweight" cities of between 200,000 and 2 million residents forecast to drive 40% of the region's growth. However, it says, this rapid urbanisation is not without its challenges as it has implications on important issues such as city congestion, water and air quality, poverty, rising inequalities, the urban-rural divide, and citizen security and safety.
K.T. McFarland asks Trump to withdraw her nomination as US envoy to Singapore The Straits Times 3rd Feb 2018
K.T. McFarland, picked by President Donald Trump to be the US ambassador to Singapore, withdrew from consideration for the job on Friday (Feb 2) after her nomination became stalled in the US Senate. McFarland was on Trump’s presidential transition team and later appointed deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn. Trump nominated McFarland last May to be the US envoy to Singapore. When the US Senate did not act on the nomination by the end of 2017 the White House resubmitted her nomination in early January. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in December that McFarland’s nomination had been delayed due to concerns about her testimony to Congress over communications with Russia.
Spring Singapore arm appoints private sector partners to co-invest over S$200m in deep-tech startups The Straits Times 8th Feb 2018
The investment arm of Spring Singapore, Spring Seeds Capital (SSC), has appointed nine co-investment partners in a bid to catalyse more than S$200 million of investments into early stage startups over the next eight years. With this initiative, SSC is committing up to S$100 million under the research, innovation and enterprise (RIE) budget. This amount will be matched by private capital raised by the co-investment partners. The nine appointed partners are: Armstrong Industrial Corporation, HealthXCapital, Heritas Capital Management, Incuvest-Avior, MedTech Alliance 2, Millennia-VFT Ventures, Silicon Solution Partners, Small World Accelerator and Trendlines Medical-K2 Global.
Merger of Spring and IE Singapore timely in face of global economic changes: Iswaran The Business Times 5th Feb 2018
With global expansion and innovation being increasingly entwined, having a one-stop agency to support firms' development is necessary and timely, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran. Announced last September, the merger of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and Spring Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore was formalised on Feb 5 as the House passed a Bill on the new statutory board. The new agency will continue the work of its predecessors - including the streamlining and review of government schemes and grants, with changes to be announced later this month.
Tharman: Innovation at the heart of Asean's next phase The Straits Times 26th Jan 2018
Innovation will be at the heart of Asean's next phase of development, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said, as he outlined several areas of priority, including fintech and e-commerce, for the regional grouping. He was delivering the opening remarks on the strategic outlook for Asean, which Singapore chairs this year, at a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. DPM Tharman told an audience of business and political leaders that despite challenges such as a shifting geostrategic balance, uncertainties over trade and globalisation, cyber security and terrorism, there are huge opportunities for Asean.
Singapore Reviewing Anti-Graft Law Amid Mounting Calls to Make It Tougher US News 23rd Jan 2018
Singapore's anti-corruption watchdog said it is reviewing the country's primary anti-graft law. The review is taking place in the wake of high-profile revelations of criminal wrongdoing at companies in the city-state, though a spokeswoman for the island-state's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said the move was "not connected" to those events.
Singapore's leadership 'must not become aged', renewal needed: DPM Teo Channel NewsAsia 22nd Jan 2018
A certain vitality and energy is needed to lead the county and deal with matters of the world, so Singapore's leadership must not become aged, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Monday (Jan 22). "You don't want a whole nation to be held hostage to the health of a cohort of people who are already senior and getting more and more senior with each passing year ... We need leadership renewal," said Mr Teo at Institute of Policy Studies' Singapore Perspectives 2018 Conference. He was responding to a question about senior ministers and whether there will be a larger representation of older people in Government.
Budget 2018: Tax experts call for targeted tax incentives to boost productivity The Straits Times 18th Jan 2018
The Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals (SIATP) has called for the upcoming 2018 Budget to introduce targeted tax incentives to boost the nation's productivity and help businesses take advantage of emerging technologies. In a media statement on Thursday (Jan 18), the professional body proposed a raft of measures: enhancing the existing research and development (R&D) scheme; introducing a double deduction scheme for training expenses; encouraging R&D activities in startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and introducing a fintech tax incentive. With the expiry of the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme in year of assessment 2018 (YA 2018), SIATP proposed that either the Economic Development Board or Spring Singapore could oversee a scheme where qualifying expenditure on approved R&D projects could see an additional 100 per cent to 200 per cent deduction, subject to a suggested annual cap of S$500,000. The expiry of the PIC scheme would also mean there will not be any specific tax schemes for businesses to offset training costs, to which SIATP suggested the introduction of a double deduction for training expenditures, with a suggested annual spending cap of S$500,000.
Economic priorities for S'pore as Asean chair The Straits Times 18th Jan 2018
The digital economy and trade facilitation are two of five key economic areas that Singapore will focus on during its chairmanship of Asean this year. The others are services integration and ease of investment; energy security; and strengthening ties between Asean and its external partners. Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang laid out Singapore's priorities at the Singapore Business Federation's (SBF) Asean Networking Night last night. Even as anti-trade sentiments are on the rise in other parts of the world, Asean members must stay the course in pursuing deeper economic integration, he said.
Defense & Security
Code to manage unexpected encounters in the air will help mitigate security threats in South China Sea: Ng Eng Hen The Straits Times 7th Feb 2018
Singapore hopes that Asean countries will be able to agree on a code to manage unexpected encounters in the air by October this year, a move that it says will help manage security threats arising from territorial disputes in the South China Sea.This code of unexpected encounters (CUES) will reduce the risk of miscalculation and mishaps, and provide measures for de-escalation should they occur, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Feb 7. Dr Ng, who was speaking to the media a day after the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Retreat at the Changi Exhibition Centre, gave journalists a summary of what Asean defence chiefs had discussed during the two-day retreat.
Five projects to kick off unmanned aircraft system trials at Singapore's first drone estate The Straits Times 7th Feb 2018
Testing the use of drones for parcel deliveries, security checks and the inspection of buildings are among the possible applications that will soon take off at Singapore’s first drone estate at one-north in Buona Vista. Plans to designate the 200ha business park as a drone estate were announced by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2018 on Feb 5. In an update on Wednesday Feb 7, the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and JTC Corporation said they had selected five projects for a start.
US firms dominate Asia's largest airshow as Trump looks to boost arms exports CNBC 7th Feb 2018
The world's largest economy boasted the largest international presence at this year's Singapore Airshow as President Donald Trump makes a push to increase his country's global arms exports.The Singapore event is billed as "Asia's largest aerospace and defense event," so participation is one indication of overall interest in the region. The U.S. occupied 30 percent of the airshow's total indoor exhibit space in addition to static aircraft displays, which included the Southeast Asian debut of Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets.The notable U.S. attendance comes on the heels of Washington's "Buy America" plan. In early January, Reuters reported that the White House was nearing completion of a policy that calls on U.S. diplomats and military attaches to help increase exports of American arms.
Asean defence chiefs to increase cooperation against terrorism, hold maritime exercise with China The Straits Times 6th Feb 2018
Identifying terrorism as the region's most serious security threat, Asean defence ministers on Feb 6 agreed to step up cooperation to fight it, and conduct their first maritime exercise with China to strengthen regional security. In a joint statement following the two-day Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Retreat, defence chiefs from the regional bloc condemned terrorist attacks around the world, noting: "Terrorism is a severe threat to ASEAN's progress, prosperity, and very way of life." Ministers said the scale and complexity of the terrorist threat in the region continues to grow with the influx of returning terrorist fighters, who move across borders.
Innovation key to aerospace sector: Iswaran The Straits Times 6th Feb 2018
Aircraft maintenance and inspection in Singapore are no longer humdrum operations. Workers wear augmented reality headsets and glasses. These overlay graphics of maintenance records and assembly instructions on actual equipment. Such technology has the potential to improve productivity by up to 30 per cent. Speaking of an exciting industry that is already in a good place, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran yesterday painted a picture of the future of the aerospace sector that will be driven by innovation and technology in Singapore. Already, more than 70 per cent of workers in the industry here are in high-skilled areas, such as precision engineering and electronics, said Mr Iswaran at the fifth A*Star Aerospace Technology Leadership Forum yesterday.
Spending on security to be 'very major' Budget item The Straits Times 3rd Feb 2018
Singapore will boost its security spending to tackle the terror threat, which is at one of its highest levels in recent years. Already, there are plans to introduce a facial recognition system to quickly identify suspects, and install 11,000 more cameras in public areas such as hawker centres and linkways to bus interchanges. Explaining the need to "take action" given the threat level, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said security spending will be a "very major item" in the upcoming Budget.
Asean nations unite in fighting terrorism Bangkok Post 8th Feb 2018
SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has joined his Asean counterparts in a fresh regional move to fight terrorism in the region and conduct a joint naval military drill with China. In a joint declaration, Gen Prawit and nine other defence ministers agreed to forge closer cooperation within and outside the bloc to brace against serious adversities that threaten the Asean community, which is home to 600 million people.
SE Asian states launch intelligence pact to counter Islamist threat Bangkok Post 25th Jan 2018
JAKARTA/NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Six Southeast Asian nations launched an intelligence pact on Thursday aimed at combating Islamist militants and improving co-operation on security threats, overcoming what analysts described as a high level of distrust. Under the "Our Eyes" initiative, senior defence officials will meet every two weeks to swap information on militant groups and develop a common database of violent extremists. The intelligence sharing arrangement comes after insurgents aligned to Islamic State laid siege to the southern Philippine city of Marawi last year.
Singapore's household income grew in 2017, income inequality unchanged: Singstat Channel NewsAsia 8th Feb 2018
The increase in the median monthly household income was the slowest since 2009 when households registered a decrease in earnings from work. Then, the median monthly household income fell 1.5 per cent in nominal terms and 2.4 per cent in real terms.The slowdown in income growth rate came despite a pick-up in Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the course of 2017, propelled by a stellar run in the manufacturing sector. Moving forward, overall job prospects will likely improve amid a broadening economic recovery, but wage growth in 2018 could be muted.
Singapore still 2nd freest economy in the world but gap with top-ranked Hong Kong widens The Straits Times 5th Feb 2018
Singapore retained its position as the second freest economy in the world for the 24th consecutive year, but the margin with top-ranked rival Hong Kong has widened further. Singapore scored 88.8 points on the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation - 1.4 points shy of Hong Kong's 90.2. Last year, the margin between the two cities was 1.2 point - up from 0.8 point the year before.The US think tank's annual ranking grades 12 freedoms - from property rights to financial freedom - on a scale of zero to 100 in 186 economies.
2018 investments likely to be similar to last year’s: EDB Channel NewsAsia 30th Jan 2018
Investment commitment levels in Singapore for 2018 are expected to be similar to those seen last year, amid continued uncertainties in the global economic environment, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Jan 30. At its 2017 Year-in-Review press conference, EDB said it will seek to consolidate Singapore's position as a high-value manufacturing base by deepening the nation’s advanced manufacturing and digital capabilities. It will do this by attracting investments from lead adopters of advanced manufacturing, as well as continuing to transform Singapore-based companies through initiatives such as the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, the agency added.
Singapore, HK biggest Asia recipients of FDI after China in 2017: UNCTAD The Business Times 29th Jan 2018
More direct investments flowed into Asia last year despite a decline globally - and China, Hong Kong as well as Singapore were the biggest recipients, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). An estimated US$144 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) went into China, while about US$85 billion landed in Hong Kong, data in UNCTAD'S latest Investment Trends Monitor report shows. Some US$58 billion entered Singapore.The latest report indicated that FDI flowing into Asean, of which Singapore is a member, increased by a third to US$130 billion last year. Singapore accounted for almost half - 45 per cent - of the inflow. Still, the FDI channelled into Singapore in 2017 remained below those in 2014 (US$68 billion) and 2015 (US$65 billion), the years before inflow fell to US$50 billion in 2016
Singapore's NODX growth projected to slow down to 6.7% in 2018 Singapore Business Review 18th Jan 2018
Singapore’s stellar exports performance in 2017 is starting to lose pace as exports of integrated circuits, computer parts, and printed circuit board (PCB) parts slumped before the year ended. NODX growth is now projected to moderate to 6.7% this year, a measly 2.1ppt slide from 2017’s 8.8% in 2017, according to a report from CIMB. Further, CIMB noted that the looming moderation in non-electronics NODX growth could be traced to weakness in petrochemicals (-0.6% yoy in Dec vs. +4.3% yoy in Nov) and electrical circuit apparatus (-8.7% yoy in Dec vs. +3.8% yoy in Nov). “Shipments of specialised machinery slowed further to 6.6% yoy in Dec (+8.4% yoy in Nov), after recording strong gains exceeding 40% in Nov 2016-Jun 2017. On the other hand, exports of pharmaceutical products improved 7.0% yoy in Dec (+3.2% yoy in Nov),” CIMB said. Should analysts be worried? CIMB said economists can still sleep at night as GDP growth is still expected to be at 3.6% this year, and will not be affected by the receding changes in NODX growth, provided that other domestic sectors increase in performance, and if the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) adjusts the activity of the S$ NEER.
Earth to Singapore: Join up the green dots The Straits Times 8th Feb 2018
An MEWR spokesman said the Government has committed to reducing electricity consumption by 15 per cent, and improving water efficiency by 5 per cent, in 2020, under the Public Sector Sustainability Plan launched last year. "In this Year of Climate Action, we intend to expand our targets under the plan to also include new targets in waste reduction and the adoption of renewable solar energy. We are also studying the expansion of our green procurement requirements to include other products," he added.
Commentary: Singapore’s rising natural gas ambitions face big challenges Channel NewsAsia 24th Jan 2018
Low liquidity will continue to be the biggest challenge to Singapore’s hub ambitions, as the limited size of its domestic gas market relative to the volume of LNG traded in Asia (which accounts for three quarters of global demand), makes it difficult for the country to replicate the balancing role the bigger and interconnected European hubs play in the global LNG markets.The prospects of its storage and reload initiative may also be limited by the inefficient nature of LNG re-exports. Unlike oil, the cost of transporting and handling LNG relative to its market price is significant.
SLNG terminal has enough capacity to replace piped gas if necessary: CEO The Straits Times 22nd Jan 2018
Singapore's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal has completed a recent expansion and now has enough capacity to meet the city-state's total gas demand, even if it were to stop importing natural gas through pipes. The five-year-old terminal is also retooling itself in various ways to serve the evolving LNG market, ahead of an anticipated take-off in LNG trading, bunkering, and small-scale LNG businesses, says its head honcho. Singapore LNG Corporation (SLNG) chief executive John Ng told The Business Times in a recent interview that the terminal completed its third phase of expansion of its regasification facilities last September, bringing its regasification capacity from six to 11 million tonnes.
Singapore banks big funders of region's coal projects: Study The Straits Times 21st Jan 2018
Singapore's three top banks DBS, OCBC and UOB are significant funders of coal projects in the region, an analysis of their investments shows, putting them at odds with a growing number of global banks shunning financing of polluting coal-fired power stations and mines.Coal is a major source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for heating up the planet. All three banks have adopted sustainable financing guidelines and told The Sunday Times they carefully consider each investment with regard to environmental impact versus the need to bring electricity to millions of people.
Large greenhouse gas emitters voice concerns as Government irons out details of carbon tax Channel NewsAsia 24th Jan 2018
Instead of being charged a flat rate, large emitters of greenhouse gases have called for the upcoming carbon tax to be based on whether their emissions meet industry-specific benchmarks. At a consultation session on Tuesday (Jan 23), 40 companies – including those from the power generation and petrochemical industries – voiced concerns about how the carbon tax might be implemented. Mr Yu Tat Ming, chief executive of PacificLight, a power generation company, said a benchmark system will give companies more incentive to reduce emissions. The carbon tax, which will be implemented next year, is just one in a range of measures aimed at reducing emissions intensity in Singapore by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. It will target large direct emitters, defined as those that emit 25,000 or more tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. This is expected to affect 30 to 40 emitters operating in Singapore. The Government is also looking at charging a flat rate of between S$10 and S$20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions.
Singapore Government still studying e-commerce tax: Indranee Rajah The Straits Times 7th Feb 2018
With less than two weeks to go till the unveiling of the Budget on Feb 19, the Government is still studying the best way to implement an e-commerce tax, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said on Wednesday (Feb 7). In a live interview with MoneyFM 89.3, the new business radio station, she said: “It’s certainly something we would like to do, but we have to be careful about how we do it because we’ve seen some other countries where they implemented it and then had to dismantle it because it didn’t work out quite well. So that is something we are studying carefully.''
Malaysia and Singapore to set up stock market trading link Monetary Authority Singapore 6th Feb 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) will work together to facilitate the establishment of a stock market trading link between Bursa Malaysia (BM) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) by the end of this year. The trading link will allow investors to trade and settle shares listed on each other’s stock market in a more convenient and cost efficient manner. Retail investors notably will benefit from such a link. This initiative follows from the ongoing efforts of the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) to deepen financial connectivity across the region's capital markets. The bilateral link between BM and SGX will extend beyond trading to cover post-trade arrangements like the clearing and settlement of the stocks traded. In relation to this strategic initiative, MAS and SC will set up cross-border supervisory and enforcement arrangements, and work together with the two exchanges to operationalise the link.
Swiss Re launches Asia-Pacific HQ in Singapore The Straits Times 1st Feb 2018
Reinsurance major Swiss Re yesterday launched its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, signalling the strength of its commitment to the region. It also announced the composition of a regional board of directors for Swiss Re Asia, headed by Mr Lim Siong Guan, former group president of GIC and current adviser to the GIC Group Executive Committee.
DBS Bank to simplify bill payments for small businesses in Singapore Enterprise Innovation 1st Feb 2018
According to Singapore’s Department of Statistics, 99% of registered businesses in the country are small and medium-sizes businesses employing 65% of the country’s workforce. Recognizing this underserved opportunity, local banks have been continually expanding their product offerings to cater to this underserved market. DBS Bank in Singapore has launched a new service to let small businesses, including start-ups and SMEs, to send payment instructions directly from Xero to their DBS IDEAL internet banking account, instead of entering them manually into their internet banking. The service is available to all Xero Singapore customers who have an active DBS Singapore bank feed using a DBS IDEAL account. The service is currently only available for bills in Singapore dollars.
Singapore Life to acquire Zurich Life Singapore's business portfolio Enterprise Innovation 23rd Jan 2018
Singapore’s newest life insurer Singapore Life Pte. Ltd. (Singapore Life) and Zurich Life Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Zurich Life Singapore) have announced an agreement for Singapore Life to acquire the business portfolio of Zurich Life Singapore.
SGX opens way to dual-class share listings Nikkei Asian Review 19th Jan 2018
Singapore Exchange will allow companies with dual-class shares to list and will announce the new rules by March, chief executive Loh Boon Chye said Friday. The move is aimed at attracting more initial public offerings of growing startups to Singapore. Dual-class shares structures -- designed to give specific shareholders bigger voting power -- are widely used by startups because they makes fundraising easier. But there are concerns over use of the structures, such as lack of governance.
Singapore's Kit Trading raising money for crypto arbitrage fund The Straits Times 19th Jan 2018
As Bitcoin continues its wild ride, a Singapore hedge fund unit is raising US$10 million for a cryptocurrency arbitrage fund to trade off price movements. Kit Trading, a unit of Vulpes Investment Management, said the fund is on track to close early next month. Kit Trading is joining an increasingly crowded field as interest in digital currencies explodes globally. In an Oct 23 report, researcher Autonomous Next said 84 crypto hedge funds had opened in 2017, up from just 11 in 2016. While institutional investors have mostly stayed on the sidelines, companies are launching everything from funds to regulated exchanges to crypto derivatives, trying to lure them in.
Food & Agriculture
Taskforce on formula milk reports 4.8% drop in average prices Channel NewsAsia 8th Feb 2018
The average price of infant formula milk powder has dropped 4.8 per cent since May last year, Senior Minister of State of Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said on Feb 8. He said this in the first formal update since chairing a taskforce to look into high prices of formula milk that came into the spotlight in March last year. A survey last year showed that that the average price of a 900g tin of infant milk powder in Singapore had soared 120 per cent over the last decade to more than S$50.The Government then set up a taskforce to look into tightening regulations on labelling and advertising, facilitating imports of more formula milk options, strengthening public education, and encouraging good practices in hospitals.
Aim: 25% cut in Singaporeans' sugar intake by 2020 The Straits Times 7th Feb 2018
By 2020, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) aims to get Singaporeans to cut their sugar intake by nearly a quarter, as well as include more unrefined carbohydrates, such as wholegrains, in their diet. The HPB said that it is also drawing up a set of guidelines for food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar used in sauces, desserts and sweet drinks.These moves in the war against diabetes come half a year after seven drink companies pledged to reduce the sugar in their beverages to 12 per cent by 2020. The board also hopes to increase the proportion of unrefined carbohydrates - which include wholegrains - that people are consuming from 17 per cent to 35 per cent.
Health & Life Sciences
Finding a cure for rising costs in healthcare The Straits Times 28th Jan 2018
The health budget in two years is expected to be almost on a par with that of defence now, traditionally the biggest government spending item. Even as spending has to go up, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong maps out to Insight Singapore's strategy for keeping cost increases under control.
Committee set up to recommend medical fee benchmarks The Straits Times 22nd Jan 2018
The Health Ministry has established a 13-member committee to come up with "reasonable" national benchmarks for medical fees. The committee members include medical doctors, academics and representatives from the Government, as well as insurance and non-profit sectors. The ministry had announced last November the plan to produce government-backed benchmarks as part of a move to keep healthcare costs in check.
Hospital-to-Home programme paves smoother road to recovery for 8,000 patients TODAYonline 5th Feb 2018
About 8,000 patients with a high risk of repeated hospital admissions have been returning home smoothly post-discharge since April last year, under the Hospital-to-Home (H2H) programme. This was shared by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at the inaugural Global Conference on Integrated Care on Friday (Feb 2). Mr Gan had highlighted that Singapore needs to “urgently transform” the way it delivers care in order to provide “appropriate and effective” care for an rapidly ageing population. One way, said the minister, is to achieve a “seamless integration” of care services for the patient across different settings, such as between acute, intermediate and long-term care; between acute and primary care; and between primary and community care.
IP Considerations in Singapore’s Healthcare and Medical Technologies Sector ASEAN Business News 29th Jan 2018
Underpinned by both rising disposable income and progressively aging population, Singapore offers various promising business opportunities to European SMEs engaged in healthcare and medical technologies sector, whose topnotch technology is increasingly sought after. Furthermore, Singapore’s healthcare expenditure is expected to grow about 10 percent by 2020 and the government is committed to offering better healthcare to its citizens as it has dedicated a budget of EUR 2.64 billion to developing the health and biomedical sciences sector in Singapore over the next five years.
Spending on seniors' services a 'big item' in Budget 2018 The Straits Times 26th Jan 2018
Spending on services for seniors will be a "big item'' in the upcoming Budget, Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said yesterday when she underlined the growing challenge of addressing the needs of Singapore's rapidly ageing population. She did not elaborate on the extent of the increase, but noted that "in the years ahead, healthcare is going to be an even bigger part of our Budget expenditure". Her comment, made at a seniors' event, comes four days after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat indicated at a conference on ageing to expect measures that will better support seniors in the national Budget.
As Singapore ages, low tax model creaks Reuters 23rd Jan 2018
Beneath its modern and glitzy exterior, Singapore is aging. For the first time in its short history, the Southeast Asian nation is expected to have as many people aged 65 and older as under 15 this year, a demographic crux that challenges the low-tax economic model that helped transform Singapore from port town to financial hub in a matter of decades. Top government officials have been signaling the need for higher taxes to support future social spending, and with the country forecasting a primary deficit in 2017 that would be the largest in at least 16 years, changes are expected as soon as the budget on Feb. 19. The city-state has some of the lowest tax rates in the world, with room to adjust parts without risking its competitiveness, but not even its citizens, who stand to be better supported by welfare changes, welcome higher taxes. A recent study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) showed Singaporeans would rather the government dip into its national reserves than raise taxes. But economists say things will have to change in a country which has one of the highest life expectancies and lowest fertility rates in the world and marginal increases to the likes of the goods and services tax this year may only be the start of a longer-term rethink.
First Zika case of 2018 reported in Singapore Channel NewsAsia 23rd Jan 2018
After nearly four months without a reported case of Zika virus infection, the first case of 2018 was confirmed last Thursday (Jan 18). It is also the first case since Sep 29, 2017, according to the Ministry of Health. The ministry said on Tuesday that the patient sought outpatient treatment and is recovering well. It did not respond to queries on where the infection originated and declined to provide more details on the case, citing patient confidentiality.
Singapore Airlines inks partnerships to drive digital ambition ZDNet 29th Jan 2018
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has inked several partnerships in a bid to drive its digital transformation and and tap new technologies to improve efficiencies. The national carrier on Monday announced new agreements with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Economic Development Board (EDB), and National University of Singapore (NUS). These partnerships aimed to help the airline develop digital capabilities to attain operational efficiencies and identify new business opportunities. SIA in the past couple of years had been rolling out various digital initiatives as well as incorporating associated skillsets in its workplace. The company also was in the midst of setting up a digital innovation lab to enable its employees to work with innovative companies, such as startups, incubators, and accelerators as part of efforts to encourage new ideas and facilitate collaboration.
Singapore soars up innovation rankings, US falls out of top 10 The Business Times 26th Jan 2018
The US dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No 1 and No 2 rankings. Singapore jumped ahead of European economies Germany, Switzerland and Finland into third place on the strength of its top ranking in the tertiary-efficiency category. "Singapore has always placed strong focus on educating her populace, especially in STEM disciplines," said Yeo Kiat Seng, professor and associate provost at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It also has a "steadfast commitment to funding R&D and innovation," added Yeo, who holds 38 patents.
ADECS 2018: Singapore police leverages unmanned technologies Shephard Media 26th Jan 2018
The Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG) is exploring unmanned technology as a force multiplier to better cope with changing threats at sea. The PCG has been conducting trials since late 2016 with two variants of the Venus USV from ST Electronics, a Venus 9 and a larger Venus 16. The former measures 9.5m long and can be powered by either waterjet or propeller, giving it a top speed of 30kt and payload of 2,000kg or 2,500kg respectively. The 16.5m-long Venus 16 carries five times more and features a rail system on the rear deck, which enables the PCG to modify the Venus 16 for various operational needs. Both USVs can operate under Sea State 3, which equates to waves up to 1.2
Singapore Offers S$30 Million for Research on Water Solutions Waterworld 26th Jan 2018
National Water Agency PUB has launched three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to invite industry technology providers and researchers to develop solutions that will improve the effectiveness of water treatment processes and operations, and ensure water sustainability. The first RFP targets specific technologies in enhancing energy efficiency of the water and used water treatment process. For water treatment, it aims to reduce the energy consumption of desalination and NEWater through biomimicry. This involves exploring water channels or transporters that use very low energy, such as aquaporins derived from specific species of microorganism, fish and mangrove plants, as well as synthetic channels, for incorporation into biomimetic membranes.
‘Digital district’ in Singapore to create 28,000 tech jobs Inquirer 22nd Jan 2018
When its first buildings are ready in five years, Punggol North could become something of a mini Silicon Valley in Singapore – a center for digital and cyber-security industries that generates up to 28,000 digital economy jobs. The masterplan for the 50ha Punggol Digital District was launched yesterday (Jan 21) by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at Waterway Point mall, together with an exhibition on what the district would look like. Speaking at the event, Mr Teo said the plan is to make Punggol “a hub for key growth sectors of the digital economy”, and that could even involve moving government agencies, such as the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore – currently in Maxwell Road – to the district.
Consortium formed to expand uses of membrane technology The Straits Times 6th Feb 2018
On February 5, the National Research Foundation (NRF) launched a national consortium to spur research and enable membrane technology to be adopted beyond the water sector. The Singapore National Membrane Consortium (SG-MEM) will bring together research institutes from universities and polytechnics, government agencies and companies - including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - to come up with solutions for various sectors. NRF director of programmes George Loh said: "The SG-MEM consortium provides the platform for SMEs, which are not in the water sector, to have access to membrane technologies for applications in diverse sectors, including food and beverage, fragrance and medtech. This will help our SMEs benefit from the latest technologies to grow their business." The consortium will focus on five sectors: Energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, biomedical and water.
Singapore Airlines plans blockchain tech for frequent flyer spending Reuters 5th Feb 2018
Singapore Airlines plans to use blockchain technology to give its frequent flyers a new way to spend their accumulated miles, it said on Monday. The company said a digital wallet app for its KrisFlyer loyalty program would be launched in about six months and it would be signing up retail partners in the Singapore market to begin with. “I think we are the first airline to do it,” Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong told the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, a gathering of aviation leaders on the eve of Asia’s largest air show. Singapore Airlines last month said it will invest “hundreds of millions” of dollars in digital technology over several years as part of a broader transformation designed to remain competitive against global rivals.
Cybersecurity Bill passed in Parliament; MPs raise questions on privacy, cost Channel NewsAsia 5th Feb 2018
A bill aimed at strengthening the protection of computer systems providing essential services against cyber-attacks passed in Parliament on Monday (Feb 5). Under the Cybersecurity Bill, owners of computer systems directly involved in the provision of essential services for national security, defence, foreign relations, economy, public health, public safety or public order will have to report cybersecurity incidents related to these systems, and comply with other statutory obligations . The owners of these systems - called Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) - have to comply with codes of practice and standards of performance, conduct cybersecurity audits and risk assessments, and participate in cybersecurity exercises under the Bill. No action will be taken against CII owners for cybersecurity breaches if they comply with their obligations, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said during the second reading of the Bill on Monday (Feb 5). However, non-compliance will be an offence that will entail a maximum penalty of S$100,000, two years in jail, or both, he said.
More needed to tackle under-representation of women in Singapore's ICT sector Techgoondu 23rd Jan 2018
More needed to tackle under-representation of women in Singapore’s ICT sector January 23rd, 2018 | by Grace Chng Internet In the early 2000s, the enrolment of women in the computing science degree programmes at the local universities was low. University lecturers had done all the right things. They held computer science career talks in schools and junior colleges. Open house events at the universities invited young women and their parents in to see the exciting things they could do in the courses. Yet enrolment remained low, hovering below 30 per cent, they told me. The lecturers were perplexed. Girls were doing well in maths and science earlier in school, they told me.
Why Singapore needs Tuas mega port to keep ruling the seas Channel NewsAsia 7th Feb 2018
The project is set to cost billions of dollars and span more than two decades. And the stakes are high - not least because the maritime sector contributes 7 per cent to the economy and over 170,000 jobs.The maritime ecosystem here supports many home-grown companies, including small and medium enterprises, in areas from manufacturing to logistics to technology. And with PSA giving up its city terminals by 2027 and the Pasir Panjang Terminal by 2040, when the Tuas mega port will be completed, the industry’s future will singularly lie in the new port. Infrastructural investments like the Tuas mega port will further “translate into new capabilities, new opportunities for companies to get in on the game and grow Singapore together”, agreed Supply Chain and Logistics Academy CEO Ian Dyason.
‘We are not done building Singapore’: Build for the future but be prudent, says Heng Swee Keat Channel NewsAsia 7th Feb 2018
Moving forward, Mr Heng noted that there must be a “concerted effort” to make Singapore “a node of trade, investment, innovation, technology”.“If we are a node that connects to all the vibrant centres around the world, it will give us certainly give us a big lift so we must continue to think ahead, look at what are the trends and how we must continue to invest.”Given the need to build for durability and maintainability, infrastructure projects tend to be hefty investments. Making them future ready to accommodate technological advancements adds to the cost, said Mr Heng. As such, adopting a long-term and holistic view will be key. Infrastructure is another sector that will likely see increased spending in the coming years and Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 6) that comprehensive measures are in place to ensure cost-efficiency for publicly-funded infrastructure projects.
Parliament: Govt looking for most optimal way to fund T5, other funding methods not ruled out, says Indranee The Straits Times 6th Feb 2018
The Government is still looking for the most optimal way to pay for Changi Airport's Terminal 5, and does not rule out other funding methods, said Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah on Feb 6. She was responding to Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who asked for the Finance Ministry's position on the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) stand that major airport expansion works should not be pre-funded through taxes on travellers.The Straits Times reported last month that passengers flying out of Changi may have to pay an additional $10 to $15 in fees, to fund T5 and other works in Changi East. Transit passengers could be charged half this amount.
Building boldly: 5 things you might not know about infrastructure planning in Singapore The Straits Times 4th Feb 2018
1. Land reclamation - empoldering to save 40 per cent in sand and construction Land reclamation will continue to be an important way for Singapore to overcome its land constraints.In recent years, the Republic has turned to a Dutch reclamation method called empoldering, that can save 40 per cent in sand volume and construction costs, said Mr Wong.The method is being used in Pulau Tekong, which is set to grow by 810 ha, or the size or Toa Payoh, by 2022. The added land will be used for military training, freeing up space on the mainland - in Tengah - for housing.
Singapore’s manufacturing sector expands for 17th straight month in Jan Channel NewsAsia 2nd Feb 2018
Singapore’s manufacturing sector expanded for the 17th consecutive month in January to record its highest reading in eight years.The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - an early indicator of manufacturing activity - came in at 53.1 points, an increase of 0.3 from the previous month, according to data released by the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM) on Friday (Feb 2).This is the highest level since December 2009 when the reading recorded 53.3.“This latest PMI reading marked a good start of the year for the manufacturing sectors, which was boosted by the non-electronics sectors,” said SIPMM.The institute attributed the improved reading to a faster rate of expansion in factory output, new orders, new exports and inventory.