Singapore Update: March 22, 2018

Singapore Update | March 22, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith and Joyce Lin
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 28: Singapore Committee Quarterly Call

April 26: US-ABC Annual Gala Dinner

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Parliament of Singapore Holds Committee of Supply Debate on Budget 2018
Between March 1-8, the Parliament of Singapore sat as the Committee of Supply (COS) to examine each Government Ministry's expenditure plans under the proposed Budget 2018, which features heavy investments in infrastructure and an emphasis on technological growth, environmental sustainability, and fiscal responsibility. It is through the annual COS debate, which includes speeches by the various Government Ministers and associated Ministry officials, that a clearer picture emerges of how each Ministry's budget allocation will be implemented. During this year's COS debate, Members of Parliament filed 530 cuts, resulting in the longest Committee of Supply Budget debate in five years. Following the debate, the Parliament sent the resulting Supply Bill to President Halimah Yacob, whose discretionary role in the budgeting process arises from her duty to safeguard Singapore's past reserves. Concluding that the new expenditures from the Supply Bill would not draw on these reserves, President Yacob gave her approval of the Bill for Budget 2018 on March 13. The Supply Act of 2018 will come into force on April 1.

For the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran emphasized the importance of MTI's role in supporting each sector, enterprise, and individual worker during the COS debate. He spoke about forming partnerships in the infrastructure sector to address the significant opportunities that span different industries, such as financial services, professional services, precision engineering, and construction. To support this endeavor, an infrastructure office will be set up to build a deeper understanding of the pipeline of infrastructure projects in the region, promote collaboration between foreign and local enterprises, and facilitate the structuring, financing and execution of infrastructure projects in developing Asia. Minister Iswaran also spoke about planned investments into R&D, liberalization of the retail electricity market, and the carbon tax, which is slated to come into force starting in 2019. A copy of Minister Iswaran's speech can be found here.

In terms of trade priorities for MTI, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Mr Lim Hng Kiang spoke about pursuing an ASEAN Agreement on E-Commerce to streamline E-Commerce regulations and help businesses leverage the E-commerce market potential in Southeast Asia. The streamlined regulations will help entrepreneurs and SMEs to market their products and services regionally with greater ease, as well as make it safer to send and receive electronic payments. Affirming ASEAN's strong potential as a market, the Minister said that the ASEAN Economic Community, since its realization in 2015, has lowered entry barriers, reduced transaction costs and generated job opportunities in the region. Singapore will continue to engage in bilateral initiatives within the region such as the High-Speed Rail and Rapid Transit System collaborations with Malaysia, as well as the Kendal Industrial Park joint venture project with an Indonesian company in Central Java. A copy of Minister Lim's speech can be found here.

The Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, in his speech during the COS debate, outlined three strategies to prepare Singapore for digital transformation: accelerate the digitalization of existing sectors; build up info-communications (ICM) media or ICM companies, and create future digital technology sectors. According to the Minister in his speech, a key objective for Singapore this year would be to improve digital literacy in ASEAN, advocate open data flows and facilitate cyber norms discussions in ASEAN as the ASEAN Chair. The Minister also voiced concern over issues arising from the convergence of info-communications and media sectors. One of the issues he highlighted is how digital technology and social media platforms have come together to exacerbate the risk posed by "fake news." A Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods has been appointed by the Parliament to examine the issue. A copy of Minister Yaacob's speech can be found here.

During the Ministry of Finance COS Debate, Minister of State for Finance, Ms Indranee Rajah spoke about key initiatives aimed at strengthening enterprise capabilities. For example, the National Trade Platform, spearheaded by Singapore Customs, enables trade and logistics businesses to share and re-use data and documents faster and more securely between partners and the Government. In his speech, Second Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong acknowledged that the share of development expenditure to fund capital projects is "slightly higher than what it used to be," at 28% of the total annual budget. He stressed that the government will continue to monitor and maintain the balance between operating and development expenditures. Minister Wong also elaborated on a series of mechanisms to ensure effective and prudent government spending, including the Block Budget Framework, the Budget Utilization Framework, and the Value-For-Money Reviews. He also addressed concerns regarding the distribution of fiscal year 2017's budget surplus, S$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) of which is set-aside for the Rail Infrastructure Fund. A copy of Minister of State for Finance Rajah's speech can be found here, and a copy of Second Minister for Finance Wong's speech can be found here.

The Ministry of Transport received the most substantial increase in budget allocation this year, with a 52.6% increase from S$9 billion (US$6.8 billion) in 2017 to S$13.7 billion (US$10.4 billion) in 2018. In his speech during the Ministry of Transport's COS debate, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the construction of Terminal 5 and expansion of the airport at Changi East is akin to constructing a second airport, given the project's unprecedented scale and complexity. The Government is expected to foot the majority of the costs of the project. The Minister also highlighted measures to ensure an extensive public transport network, and to harness technology in transforming land transport. Second Minister Ng Chee Meng also provided a review of the regulations for the Private Hire Car industry, and said that the government is studying how to license the Private Hire Car booking service operators. A copy of Minister Khaw's speech can be found here, and a copy of Second Minister Ng's speech can be found here.

The Council has previously released an analytical brief on Budget 2018, which can be found here.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Singapore Issues Draft Guidelines on Applying GST to Imported Services
On March 20, the US-ASEAN Business Council submitted comments to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) on:

  1. The e-Tax Draft GST Guide on Taxing Imported Services by Way of Reverse Charge
  2. The e-Tax Draft GST Guide on Taxing Imported Services by Way of an Overseas Vendor Registration Regime  

The Council's final submission on the first Draft Guide (which was specific to B2B transactions) can be found here.

The Council's final submission on the second Draft Guide (which was specific to B2C transactions) can be found here.

IRAS released the above Draft Guides on February 20 and accepted public comments until March 20. Previously, IRAS had issued a call for input on a proposal for a broader, simplified vendor registration system for imports of low-value goods and digital services. The Council submitted a letter on June 30, 2017 commenting on the proposal (final submission found here).

The taxation of e-Commerce is a trend that is occurring across the region. For example, Thailand recently released a draft regulation on the imposition of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on e-Commerce services provided from abroad and the Council submitted comments on this draft regulation (found here) on February 9. Thailand will also be releasing additional regulations to impose VAT on e-Commerce goods provided from abroad. With such regulations emerging in multiple countries in the region, we look forward to continuing our advocacy efforts on these issues on a wide scale.

If you have any questions, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority Issues Public Consultation on New Food Additives and Extension of Use of Existing Additives to Wider Range of Food Products
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore has issued a public consultation (here) inviting interested members of the food industry (local food manufacturers and importers) to submit applications for: 

  • The use of new food additives currently not permitted for use in Singapore; and/or
  • The extension of the use of existing food additives to a wider range of food products.

The Food Regulations specifies the types of food additives that may be added to food imported/manufactured and sold in Singapore, and the categories of food to which they may be added to.

In order to facilitate trade, the industry is invited to submit applications for the use of new food additives and/or extension of the use of currently permitted food additives for AVA’s safety assessment. Based on the level of interest from the industry, AVA will coordinate and prioritize applications for safety assessment and incorporation into the Food Regulations.  The full public consultation can be found here.

The Council is soliciting interest from member companies on this issue for a potential joint submission during the public consultation period.  If you are interested in joining a joint submission on this topic, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Cybersecurity a critical area for closer cooperation between Asean and Australia: PM Lee
Singapore PM tells ASEAN to adjust to new power balance
Innovation, digital economy key areas for Singapore's Asean chairmanship: Lim Hng Kiang
Singapore paving the way for greater regional security

National Affairs
MTI appoints 18 to board of Enterprise Singapore
'Some indicators' Singapore was target of information warfare recently, says academic
Singapore launches public hearings on 'fake news'
By announcing GST hike early, Govt being 'honest and upfront' about national needs: Heng Swee Keat
Budget 2018 passed in Parliament, with 8 Workers' Party MPs voting against it
Economic transformation the 'most critical challenge' facing Singapore: Heng Swee Keat
Cabinet reshuffle after Parliament prorogues to give younger ministers more exposure: PM Lee

Customs
SG announces online submission for claiming preferential tariff treatment
New transformation roadmap, tech to propel Singapore’s maritime industry
Blockchain trial successfully tracks and traces cargo movement from Chongqing to Singapore
Singapore unveils 4 steps in next phase of maritime growth
Singapore to sign new TPP deal next week, says Lim Hng Kiang

Defense & Security
Parliament: Defence spending to remain steady even as other countries spend more on wide-ranging security threats, says Ng Eng Hen
Singapore proposes measure to bar communications from terror attack...
Exercise Cobra Gold Strengthens Interoperability, Regional Relationships

Economics
Singapore exports see surprise 5.9% drop in February with electronics shipments down again
Singapore, European Union move forward towards ratification of bilateral trade deal
Car costs make Singapore world's priciest city, again
Economists up Singapore's 2018 growth forecast to 3.2%; protectionism worries soar
Singapore's economy jumps by 3.6% in 2017

Energy
17 F&B businesses in Singapore commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil
Power retailers may default amidst heated bout in Singapore's open energy market
PCS opens naphtha import facilities on Jurong Island
Senoko Energy launches retail services for consumers ahead of market liberalisation
Microsoft is buying solar energy from Singapore rooftops
Fourth liquefied natural gas tank to be completed by H1: MTI

Financial Services
Singapore paves the way for legal finance in Asia
MAS sets out measures for large-scale movements in financial advisory industry
Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand sign pact that expands cross-border fund offerings
S'pore not going cashless 'for its own sake' but for economic competitiveness
MAS mulls additional regulations to protect cryptocurrency investors
Singapore Bourse to Ease Rules in Pursuit of Tech IPOs
Singapore Explores Rules to Protect Investors in Cryptocurrencies
Indonesia, Singapore to Exchange Financial Data in September

Health & Life Sciences
Citizens speak out against introduction of 5% co-payment to healthcare insurance consumers
Healthcare goes heartland
Elder-friendly housing communities “twinned” with care services in the works: MOH
Experienced public healthcare sector pharmacists, nurses to be allowed to prescribe medicines from July
Singapore Budget 2018: S$550m increase in spending on health and social services
Understanding ElderShield and its proposed changes
A virtual reality first for medical studies in Singapore

ICT
Cyber security essential to Singapore's survival: CSA chief David Koh
Singapore, Indonesia to share expertise on e-commerce logistics
Parliament: Singapore to start first cyber-security start-up hub
Singapore’s ITE launches new Building Technologies and Solutions Centre to nurture technical workforce
Singapore Budget 2018: OIP will accelerate innovation and digital transformation
Singapore Manufacturing Sector Leads IoT Readiness in APEJ
Firms have small window for digital transformation: Heng
Centrally-managed platform being developed for Singapore government agencies to build digital applications

Infrastructure
Khaw: Fares to go up as operating costs rise
Bt Panjang LRT: Most works to be completed by 2022
Municipal Services Office to help with small-scale local infrastructure through new fund
Singapore Budget 2018: Infrastructure Office to be launched in October
International Air Transport Association 'disappointed' with new Changi Airport passenger levy
Rail Infrastructure Fund to propel spending growth
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Cybersecurity a critical area for closer cooperation between Asean and Australia: PM Lee The Straits Times 18th Mar 2018
Asean and Australia should work closer together on cybersecurity issues, which range from Internet crimes to fake news, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (March 18). In a speech to other Asean leaders and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a plenary session at the Asean-Australia Special Summit, he noted that cybercrimes are a transboundary problem that is difficult to police. "It can have a drastic impact on our populations, for example in terms of critical infrastructure; and it can be insidious - undermining the trust which holds our societies together, for example through fake news."

Singapore PM tells ASEAN to adjust to new power balance Nikkei Asian Review 14th Mar 2018
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations should adjust to a new power balance in Asia so that individual members and the group can benefit from increasingly influential China and India, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a lecture on Tuesday. The city-state is this year's chair of the 10-member bloc. Speaking at an event organized by the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, a Singapore-based research center focused on Southeast Asian studies, Lee said that ASEAN "has to adjust to a strategic balance which is shifting both globally and in the region." Lee specifically noted the rising power of China and India. "New powers are growing in strength and influence, especially China and India. Individual ASEAN countries must adapt to the new and changing strategic landscape." This is because the two big countries, he said, will provide opportunities for ASEAN countries. He added that the relationship between ASEAN and China is deep and broad, but also complex due to disputed claims over the South China Sea. "We must accept the reality of these tidal pulls, yet they must not lead to fault lines forming within the ASEAN group," Lee stressed, referring to the influence wielded over the smaller countries by the two big powers.

Innovation, digital economy key areas for Singapore's Asean chairmanship: Lim Hng Kiang The Straits Times 1st Mar 2018
Singapore's economic objectives for 2018 are to deepen regional connectivity to position Asean as the region for increasingly seamless economic activity and growing opportunities, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang. He was speaking at the 24th Asean Economic Ministers' Retreat on Thursday (March 1) at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel. Singapore is taking over the chairmanship of Asean this year. Some priorities for Singapore include strengthening Asean cohesion through continual alignment with the necessary work to progress the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, progress work on some long-standing initiatives that Asean has been pursuing, and positioning Asean for the next phase of growth, especially through innovation.

Singapore paving the way for greater regional security The Straits Times 24th Feb 2018
Singapore's chairmanship of this year's Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) comes at a time of great uncertainty in the region's security environment. Terrorism remains a problem in South-east Asia even as Asean has to contend with challenges that threaten to undermine its internal cohesion as well as its centrality in the wider regional security architecture. Despite the multi-pronged challenges, the ADMM Retreat and the Asean-China Defence Ministers' Informal Meeting - both held in Singapore earlier this month - provided promising outcomes. The initiatives that came out of the two events reflect not just strategic vision, but also an astute appreciation of the issues at hand. It is early days yet, but Singapore's overlapping remits as Asean chair for 2018 as well as Asean-China country coordinator for 2015-2018 have so far borne fruit. A closer look at what was accomplished: A major achievement of the ADMM Retreat held on Feb 6 was the development of a "3R framework" by Singapore to take on the evolving threat of terrorism.

National Affairs

MTI appoints 18 to board of Enterprise Singapore The Straits Times 20th Mar 2018
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has appointed 18 people to the board of Enterprise Singapore, the new one-stop government agency which will help Singapore companies go global. Enterprise Singapore will be established on April 1, following the merger of Spring Singapore and IE Singapore. Mr Peter Ong Boon Kwee, former head of the Civil Service, will be officially appointed chairman on the same date. MTI Second Permanent Secretary Png Cheong Boon, who used to head Spring and JTC Corporation, was named Enterprise Singapore's first chief executive officer last year. His appointment as CEO will also take effect on April 1.

'Some indicators' Singapore was target of information warfare recently, says academic Channel NewsAsia 20th Mar 2018
There are "some indicators" that Singapore was recently the target of an information warfare campaign by a state seeking to legitimise its actions on the international sphere, said an academic giving evidence to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods in a private session on Friday (Mar 16). The committee held two private sessions on Friday to hear oral evidence. These were held in private as they "concerned matters of national security and international relations", it said in its summary of evidence for the third day of proceedings.  In one of these sessions, Dr Gulizar Haciyakupoglu - a research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University - noted how a state tried to influence certain segments of society through news articles and social media, in order to "legitimise" its "actions on an international sphere".

Singapore launches public hearings on 'fake news' NST Online 14th Mar 2018
Singapore on Wednesday launched public hearings on possible legislation to combat "fake news" which critics said could be used to curtail free speech. A 10-member parliamentary committee was set up in January to tackle false online information which the government says could threaten national security. The wealthy city-state is among the countries looking to introduce legislation to rein in fake news but critics have cautioned this could be used to exert further control over the media. Some 164 people have written to the committee, including academics, technology and social media companies such as Facebook and Google, and civil activists to give their inputs. The committee will call 79 individuals and organisations to testify over eight days after which it is expected to make recommendations to lawmakers within months.

By announcing GST hike early, Govt being 'honest and upfront' about national needs: Heng Swee Keat Channel NewsAsia 1st Mar 2018
SINGAPORE: By announcing the GST increase early, the Government is giving “ample notice” to citizens and businesses, and is being “honest and upfront” about Singapore’s national needs and setting out what needs to be done, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 1).   Rounding off the Budget debate in Parliament, Mr Heng addressed questions from Members of Parliament on the timing of the GST increase. He pointed out that in planning Singapore’s finances, the Government takes the “long view”, where it seeks to understand major trends holistically, and how they might affect Singaporeans. “We seek to understand major trends holistically, and how they might affect Singaporeans,” he said. “We assess carefully what we need to do in response, and how we should find the resources to support our plans. Mr Heng added that just as the decision to raise GST was not made lightly, the Government will exercise care in deciding the timing of its implementation. “Before we move to raise the GST, we will carefully assess the prevailing economic conditions as well as our needs at that point.” In explaining the rationale for the increase, Mr Heng also pointed out that the Government should not shy away from addressing the need for taxes, where it sees areas of collective need that can be better met by Government provision. This, he said, includes areas like healthcare, supporting the elderly and retirees, investing in people through preschools and SkillsFuture, and strengthening Singapore’s security.

Budget 2018 passed in Parliament, with 8 Workers' Party MPs voting against it Channel NewsAsia 1st Mar 2018
Budget 2018 was passed in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 1), with 89 Members of Parliament (MPs) voting for it, and eight MPs from the Workers’ Party (WP) voting against it. WP chief Low Thia Khiang was not present for the vote. In his speech wrapping up the Budget debate in Parliament, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat addressed issues and concerns on the Budget raised by MPs over two and a half days. Noting that some had asked if the Government’s increased spending for the future could be funded with a "windfall surplus", like the S$9.6 billion one in FY2017, he said the Government's plans to secure Singapore's future cannot be funded on the basis of "episodic windfalls". He pointed out that the FY2017 surplus was largely due to “one-off, exceptional factors” that the Government does not expect to occur every year. He explained that this is why the bulk of the FY2017 surplus will be reserved for future needs like the MRT development plans and ElderShield subsidies.

Economic transformation the 'most critical challenge' facing Singapore: Heng Swee Keat Channel NewsAsia 1st Mar 2018
While the announcement of the planned increase in the goods and services tax (GST) may have received the most attention, the “most critical challenge” facing Singapore is in transforming its economy, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Thursday (Mar 1). Speaking during his round-up speech on the Budget debate, Mr Heng stressed that growing the Singapore economy is not only the best way of ensuring strong and sustainable revenues but also “the most important way for our people to realise their aspirations.” “This task is growing more urgent by the day, as structural changes in the global economy and technological advances disrupt the status quo,” he said. “Our strategy is to position Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise.” “This means fostering pervasive innovation throughout our economy, it means building deeper capabilities in our firms and our people, and it means forging stronger partnerships at home and abroad, to build, scale and ride on the region’s growth together.”

Cabinet reshuffle after Parliament prorogues to give younger ministers more exposure: PM Lee Channel NewsAsia 27th Feb 2018
A Cabinet reshuffle, which is set to take place after Parliament takes a mid-term break, will give younger ministers more exposure and responsibility, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday (Feb 27). "This way, my successor will be supported by a stronger and more experienced team, committed to leading Singapore to a better and brighter future," Mr Lee said in a Facebook post. Parliament will prorogue after the Budget debate, which started on Tuesday, and after the Committee of Supply debates on each ministry’s expenditure, which are expected to end on Mar 9. In January, Mr Lee said that the Cabinet reshuffle will be "a significant step in exposing and building the new team of leaders", although he does not plan to appoint new deputy prime ministers. Mr Lee also said in his Facebook post on Tuesday that he has asked the fourth-generation ministers to draft the Government's agenda for the President's Address when the new parliamentary session opens in May. "It will give Singaporeans a better sense of them and their thoughts," he said. Mr Lee said earlier that the Government’s agenda will “bear the imprint” of the fourth-generation leaders, who are taking on greater responsibilities and putting forth their ideas for Singapore.

Customs

SG announces online submission for claiming preferential tariff treatment Asia Customs & Trade 20th Mar 2018
Singapore Customs has announced that importers may now opt for the electronic submission of the preferential certificate of origin (PCO) for claiming preferential tariff treatment for goods imported under various free trade agreements (FTAs). In a circular dated March 13, the agency said that from April 1, an importer could choose to submit an electronic/scanned copy of the PCO or self-certification to Singapore Customs instead of a physical copy for claiming preferential treatment for the import of originating stout/porter, beer including ale, medicated samsu and other samsu products from eligible FTA partners.

New transformation roadmap, tech to propel Singapore’s maritime industry Channel NewsAsia 7th Mar 2018
A new Maritime Transformation Programme (MTP) and the setting up of a data hub, as well as an injection of S$100 million in the Maritime Cluster Funds are among initiatives to position Singapore’s maritime industry for the next phase of growth. These were revealed by Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min during the Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply debates session on Wednesday (Mar 7). Dr Lam said the MTP, which was first announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget 2018 speech, will be supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and MPA to co-fund the development of technologies with “high potential” for industry applications. Industry partners are expected to match the investments, he added.

Blockchain trial successfully tracks and traces cargo movement from Chongqing to Singapore OpenGovAsia 6th Mar 2018
The trial was conducted jointly by PSA International, Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd and IBM Singapore. For the next stage, the scope of the POC will be widened and more participants engaged from the different nodes of the distribution network that form the supply chain logistics ecosystem.

Singapore unveils 4 steps in next phase of maritime growth Port Calls Asia 12th Mar 2018
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is taking four major steps to continue growing the maritime cluster as Singapore moves to the next level of its growth as a global maritime hub. MPA said these measures are to strengthen the connectivity and inter-linkages of the maritime cluster, build a vibrant innovation ecosystem, develop a future-ready and skilled maritime workforce, and enhance and top up the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) by SGD100 million.

Singapore to sign new TPP deal next week, says Lim Hng Kiang Channel NewsAsia 2nd Mar 2018
Singapore will sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) next week, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang on Friday (Mar 2).  The signing of the CPTPP – also dubbed TPP-11 – follows negotiations earlier this year by the remaining 11 countries to settle on a revised version of the TPP after the withdrawal of the United States. Singapore is also involved in the ongoing talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with major regional blocs like the Eurasian Economic Union and the Pacific Alliance, Mr Lim revealed during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate. 

Defense & Security

Parliament: Defence spending to remain steady even as other countries spend more on wide-ranging security threats, says Ng Eng Hen The Straits Times 2nd Mar 2018
Substantial investments by past governments in building up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will allow Singapore to keep its defence spending steady even as countries in the region are spending more and against wide-ranging security threats, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Friday (March 2). He said there is a need to prioritise and optimise resources, such as investing in new technologies to overcome Singapore's constraints. Such technologies include unmanned surveillance towers, unmanned surface vessels and drones to perform runway damage assessments. Dr Ng said the Ministry of Defence should maintain a spending that keeps pace with inflation - of around 3 per cent to 4 per cent each year.Defence spending rose from about $14.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 to a budgeted $14.76 billion for FY2018, an increase of 3.9 per cent. "Even for the next decade, Mindef does not foresee any spike in defence spending. Obviously, this will not apply if there are exigencies or unexpected scenarios," he said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Singapore proposes measure to bar communications from terror attack... Reuters 27th Feb 2018
Singapore on Tuesday proposed a new law to deal with terror attacks by preventing people in the area from taking photos or videos of the incident and communicating about police operations. Ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore has been stepping up efforts to deter terrorism in recent years. The proposals, which the city-state’s Straits Times newspaper said would apply to journalists and carry punishments such as fines or prison, were part of a Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Bill 2018 introduced in parliament. The measure would allow police to issue a “communications stop order”, following approval from the home affairs minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

Exercise Cobra Gold Strengthens Interoperability, Regional Relationships U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 26th Feb 2018
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2018 —Some 5,800 U.S. service members, working in Thailand alongside forces from 29 partner nations, have wrapped up one of the largest security cooperation exercises in the Indo-Pacific region. Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters today that Cobra Gold 18, which ended Feb. 23, sought to improve participants’ capability to plan and conduct combined and joint operations, to build relationships among participating nations across the region, and to improve interoperability over a range of activities, including enhancing maritime security and responding to large-scale natural disasters.

Economics

Singapore exports see surprise 5.9% drop in February with electronics shipments down again The Straits Times 16th Mar 2018
Singapore's exports defied economist expectations to post an unexpected decline last month. Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) shrank 5.9 per cent in February from the same month a year earlier. This was the first decline since September last year and was likely due in part to the Chinese New Year, which started on Feb 16. The latest number disappointed economists who were expecting a 4.8 per cent expansion, and was also much weaker than January's 12.9 per cent rise.

Singapore, European Union move forward towards ratification of bilateral trade deal Channel NewsAsia 15th Mar 2018
The European Union and Singapore have committed to work together towards the ratification of a bilateral trade and investment deal by the end of this year, and its implementation soon after.This came out of a meeting on Friday (Mar 2) between Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and visitng EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom. "This is an important step towards closer relations with the EU, which is our third largest trading partner and largest investor in Singapore," said Mr Lim. "It also reinforces EU’s economic engagement in the ASEAN region."

Car costs make Singapore world's priciest city, again The Straits Times 15th Mar 2018
The eye-watering cost of owning a car in space-starved Singapore means the city state is the world's most expensive place to live, for the fifth year in a row, a survey said Thursday (March 15). The Asian financial hub - where owning a no-frills sedan can set you back US$76,000 - beat global capitals to the dubious title, despite stiff competition from resurgent European cities. Pricey perennials Tokyo and New York did not even make the top 10 in the annual list by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), beaten out by Paris, Zurich (joint second) Hong Kong (fourth) and Oslo (fifth).

Economists up Singapore's 2018 growth forecast to 3.2%; protectionism worries soar The Straits Times 14th Mar 2018
Private-sector economists have raised Singapore's 2018 economic growth forecast for the second consecutive time, expecting growth of 3.2 per cent, up from an earlier prediction of 3 per cent in December. They expect growth to moderate to 2.8 per cent in 2019, according to the latest quarterly survey of professional forecasters by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, released on Wednesday (March 14). Conducted in February, the survey saw responses from 24 economists and analysts who closely monitor the Singapore economy.

Singapore's economy jumps by 3.6% in 2017 Singapore Business Review 1st Mar 2018
Goods producing industries push the growth with 5.7% increase. Singapore economy grew by 3.6% for the whole year of 2017, faster than 2.4% growth in 2016.  Goods producing industries, which include manufacturing and construction, posted the highest growth with 5.7%. The manufacturing sector expanded by 10.1%, which is pushed by growth in the electronics and precision engineering clusters. The construction sector, on the other hand, shrank by 8.4% from 1.9% growth in 2016. The output was pulled down by 29.1% decline in private residential and private industrial construction works. Meanwhile, service producing industries grew by 2.8% driven by increase in the finance & insurance (4.8%), transportation & storage (4.8%), and wholesale & retail trade (2.3%).

Energy

17 F&B businesses in Singapore commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil The Straits Times 26th Feb 2018
Singapore has been free from the scourge of haze for the past two years, but at least 17 food and beverage companies here are not taking the clear skies for granted. The 17 - including major brands such as Crystal Jade, F&N and TungLok, as well as smaller businesses such as Veganburg in Eunos and NomVNom in Tai Seng - have recently committed to sourcing for sustainable palm oil. Of these, 10 of them made the commitment to do so this year. They include TungLok Group and Commonwealth Capital, whose portfolio includes brands like PastaMania and Baker and Cook.

Power retailers may default amidst heated bout in Singapore's open energy market Singapore Business Review 22nd Mar 2018
Companies are coming up with competitive energy packages, but analysts are wary if they can deliver. The liberalisation of the electricity market in the second half of the year will allow the remaining 1.3 million households in Singapore to choose their provider. This has not only lured traditional electricity providers as some large companies like telcos and banks have already started to tap into the market. Starting April, 14 electricity retailers will sell their energy plans at the soft launch of Open Electricity Market. Senoko Energy is one of those 14. Whilst it is a traditional energy provider, it will begin to sell energy packages through a retail brand for households and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

PCS opens naphtha import facilities on Jurong Island The Straits Times 15th Mar 2018
Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS) yesterday marked the official opening of its US$80 million (S$105 million) naphtha import facilities on Jurong Island, a project first announced two years ago in 2016. PCS' newest installation includes eight storage tanks totalling some 240,000 cubic metres in capacity, and a 120,000 deadweight tonnage liquid berth capable of handling large vessels transporting naphtha and associated facilities. According to previous reporting by the Nikkei Asian Review, the berth will be able to dock tankers with a capacity of 50,000 to 70,000 tonnes, doubling the size that can be accommodated.

Senoko Energy launches retail services for consumers ahead of market liberalisation The Straits Times 7th Mar 2018
Senoko Energy has launched its retail brand for households and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), ahead of the full liberalisation of Singapore's power market in the second half of this year. This will give consumers access to energy packages that may be tailored to their needs, the local utility company said in a statement on Wednesday (March 7). In October last year, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced that it will be rolling out the Open Electricity Market to promote greater competition and enhance service standards in Singapore's electricity market. The soft launch is slated to start in Jurong next month, and consumers will have the option to buy electricity from a retailer of their choice. This will then be extended to the rest of Singapore in the second half of 2018.

Microsoft is buying solar energy from Singapore rooftops CNNMoney 1st Mar 2018
Microsoft is buying up solar energy from rooftops across Singapore to power its data centers. The US company on March 1 announced a deal with Singaporean solar firm Sunseap to purchase all the power generated by a planned rooftop solar project, which will be the largest of its kind in the city-state. The 20-year agreement is the latest example of major global tech companies seeking to power more of their operations through renewable energy. Microsoft (MSFT) signed two deals last year to receive electricity from wind energy projects in Ireland and the Netherlands for its data centers in Europe.

Fourth liquefied natural gas tank to be completed by H1: MTI Singapore Business Review 28th Feb 2018
It has a capacity of 260,000 cubic metres. The construction of fourth storage tank at Singapore’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is expected to be completed by the first half of this year. It has a capacity of 260,000 cubic metres. “We believe this will offer LNG traders more options, greater flexibility and better efficiency in transshipments. SLNG will soon call for proposals for the use of its spare terminal capacity to grow its ancillary services business,” said S Iswaran, minister for Trade and Industry, at the LNG Supplies for Asian Markets 2018. SLNG is the company that owns and operates the LNG terminal. “Since the launch of our LNG terminal in 2013, we have expanded its capacity ahead of demand. This additional capacity for ancillary services has allowed for the development of LNG trading activities in Singapore. We now have a sizable LNG trading ecosystem, comprising around 45 international firms with LNG trading desks in Singapore today,” Iswaran noted. Last year, SLNG handled 23 LNG vessel cool-downs and storage & reloads.  

Financial Services

Singapore paves the way for legal finance in Asia Singapore Business Review 12th Mar 2018
It has been a year since Singapore took the landmark step of allowing legal finance for arbitration, bringing the country into line with the US, UK, Australia and numerous other leading centres of dispute resolution. Singapore took the prize for being the first Asian country to open up to legal finance. The Lion City is now in a highly competitive position to allow its users of arbitration to enjoy significantly lower legal costs to pursue meritorious cases, as well as improve their balance sheets and legal budgets. Following Singapore’s lead, countries and corporations across Asia are exploring how they too can enjoy the benefits of this innovative financial service.

MAS sets out measures for large-scale movements in financial advisory industry The Business Times 7th Mar 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday proposed four measures to address the large-scale movement of financial advisory (FA) representatives from one FA firm to another. It is also calling for a public consultation, after which it will then be decided if these measures might eventually become regulations. "We'll see what the response is. We haven't decided. This is what we think the industry should do. It's co-created with the industry and we'll see," Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), MAS, told The Business Times on the sidelines of the Life Insurance Association's annual luncheon. The first proposed measure recommends that first-year sales target tied to sign-on incentives should not be higher than the representative's average annual sales in the preceding three years.

Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand sign pact that expands cross-border fund offerings Asia Asset Management 5th Mar 2018
Regulators in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have signed a pact that will, among other things, allow smaller asset managers to offer cross-border funds among the three member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The memorandum of understanding signed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC) revises the ASEAN Collective Investment Schemes Framework which was launched in 2014. Under the original framework, fund managers operating in the three jurisdictions could only offer products across their borders if they had at least US$500 million of assets under management (AUM). This has now been reduced to $350 million.

S'pore not going cashless 'for its own sake' but for economic competitiveness The Business Times 1st Mar 2018
Singapore is not going cashless "for its own sake", but to enhance the competitiveness of its economy, said Vivian Balakrishnan, minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, at the Committee of Supply debate on Thursday. Dr Balakrishnan was responding to Desmond Choo, a member of the People's Action Party and mayor of the North East District of Singapore, who had asked if Singapore's Strategic National Projects - among them e-payments - can be used to support future economic transformation especially in supporting the gig and freelance economy.

MAS mulls additional regulations to protect cryptocurrency investors Singapore Business Review 1st Mar 2018
It remains on guard for any risky activities using virtual currencies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is assessing whether additional regulations must be implemented to protect cryptocurrency investors. “As with most financial regulators, MAS does not regulate virtual currencies. But we regulate the activities that surround virtual currencies if these pose specific risks,” said Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (financial supervision) of MAS, in a speech. “An example would be the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements that we have imposed on intermediaries providing virtual currency services. We are assessing if additional regulations are required in the area of investor protection,” Ong continued. The central bank earlier said that they are closely studying the developments and potential risks of cryptocurrencies, however, see no strong case yet to ban its trading in the country.  

Singapore Bourse to Ease Rules in Pursuit of Tech IPOs Bloomberg.com 12th Mar 2018
Singapore Exchange Ltd. is stepping up efforts to bring technology companies to its market.The bourse last year proposed allowing dual-class shares, a structure favored by tech founders because it lets them keep control after going public. Now SGX wants to loosen some of the recommended restrictions it planned to impose on dual-class listings, such as a minimum market cap, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations who asked not to be named. Making dual-class shares easier to adopt is an attempt to make Singapore more competitive with exchanges in the U.S., which have in recent years listed Chinese tech companies that now have a combined market value of about $785 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China is also joining the race to draw more tech initial public offerings, while Hong Kong is pitching that it too will allow dual-class shares.

Singapore Explores Rules to Protect Investors in Cryptocurrencies NYTimes 1st Mar 2018
Singapore's central bank is assessing whether additional regulations are required to protect investors in cryptocurrencies, an official said in a speech released on Thursday. The city-state - which is aiming to be a hub for financial technology and so-called initial coin offerings in Asia - does not regulate virtual currencies and last year called for the public to exercise "extreme caution" over investment in cryptocurrencies. Its central bank does regulate activities involving virtual currencies if they pose specific risks. For example, it imposes anti-money laundering requirements on intermediaries providing virtual currency services. "We are assessing if additional regulations are required for investor protection," Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), Monetary Authority of Singapore said. Other countries such as South Korea, where trading in cryptocurrencies is more popular, are looking at ways to regulate that activity.

Indonesia, Singapore to Exchange Financial Data in September Tempo 24th Feb 2018
Directorate General of Tax stated that financial data exchange and Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) for taxation purposes with Singapore will begin in September 2018. "We will begin information exchange with Singapore in September 2018," said international taxation director at the tax DG John Hutagaol in Jakarta on Friday, Feb. 23. John admitted that the government is currently preparing regulation for human resources and technological infrastructure. Singapore is ready to share Indonesian citizens’ financial information to Indonesian government as part of the implementation of AEOI for taxation purposes. Not only with Indonesia, Singapore will also exchange information with countries signing Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) regarding AEOI in the Netherlands in June 2017. Reciprocal exchange of financial information can commence after both jurisdictions introduce regulations required to implement Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and to maintain confidentiality and protection for the data exchanged.

Health & Life Sciences

Citizens speak out against introduction of 5% co-payment to healthcare insurance consumers The Online Citizen 9th Mar 2018
In a Today Online report dated 7 March (Wednesday), it is reported that Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat has announced in Parliament on Wednesday that to curb the “buffet syndrome” among healthcare consumers who do not have to pay out-of-pocket for their hospital bills, new Integrated Shield plan riders must feature co-payment of at least 5 per cent, adding that new riders incorporating co-payment of 5 per cent or more will be available by April next year. Mr Chee noted that in the meantime, insurers can still sell existing rider plans, some of which are full riders that cover the entire co-payment sums for hospital bills. But the insurers must inform new policyholders that they will transit to new riders with co-payment from 1 April 2021.

Healthcare goes heartland The New Paper 8th Mar 2018
At the Ministry of Health (MOH) Committee of Supply debate yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced several initiatives. Assisted living, new forms of housing developments that are twinned with care services such as housekeeping and 24/7 monitoring targeted at seniors, which MOH is currently working with other ministries to develop. Mental health, in particular dementia, to get more help. The number of Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFCs), meant to create awareness for the disease and give support to affected families, will be expanded from six to 15 over the next three years. A community-based pharmaceutical care services will be piloted this year. Pharmacists from retail pharmacies and polyclinics will visit seniors in care facilities and act as community touchpoints to assist them or caregivers with information about their medication for chronic diseases.

Elder-friendly housing communities “twinned” with care services in the works: MOH Mothership.sg 7th Mar 2018
Singapore is quickly filling up with elderly folks and since we don’t want to send them to nursing homes in Johor Bahru, we have to build developments that allow these seniors to age gracefully and comfortably. One such concept is housing developments “twinned” with care services, announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor at the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday, March 7. These new types of developments are currently being studied by MOH and the Ministry of National Development (MND). They are meant to provide a form of “assisted” living, which will allow elderly folk to live independently, but also have access to support and amenities like 24-hour monitoring and basic domestic services such as laundry and housekeeping.

Experienced public healthcare sector pharmacists, nurses to be allowed to prescribe medicines from July Channel NewsAsia 7th Mar 2018
Experienced pharmacists and advanced practice nurses from the public healthcare sector will be trained to legally prescribe medicines and order tests, without requiring a doctor's countersignature. This as part of moves to “increase patients’ access to quality care”, Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor announced on Wednesday (Mar 7). “Moving forward, we will revise our rules and put in safeguards to allow experienced and qualified nurses and pharmacists in the public healthcare sector to legally prescribe medicines through collaborative prescribing,” she said during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.

Singapore Budget 2018: S$550m increase in spending on health and social services The Business Times 26th Feb 2018
THE government will integrate its health and social services for seniors, and spend S$550 million more to better serve the needs of ageing Singaporeans. The consolidating of social- and health-related services for seniors will enable such services "to be planned and delivered holistically", Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget Speech on Monday. This means the Ministry of Social and Family Development will transfer its social aged care functions under the Senior Cluster Network and other programmes to the Ministry of Health. It will take effect from April 1 this year. "With this transfer, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be designated the central implementation agency to coordinate such services for seniors and their caregivers," Mr Heng said.

Understanding ElderShield and its proposed changes The Straits Times 24th Feb 2018
Both are insurance schemes that cover policyholders for as long as they live. While ElderShield covers people with severe disabilities, MediShield takes care of large hospital bills. You can opt out of ElderShield but not MediShield. Launched in 2002, ElderShield was designed to provide basic financial protection to Singaporeans who need long-term care. With ElderShield, you stop paying premiums after 65. You can continue to make a claim at any age afterwards, but the monthly cash payouts will last only up to six years. Those with supplementary plans will have enhanced cover.

A virtual reality first for medical studies in Singapore The Straits Times 26th Feb 2018
Students across various medical disciplines will soon get to practise what they have learnt in a virtual environment. A team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, part of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, has created a computer program which lets them do just that. Called Create Real-life Experience And Teamwork In Virtual Environment, or Creative for short, the initiative lets participants work in a virtual ward with other medical professionals to treat a patient. The "professionals" will be played by students in fields such as nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine and social work.

ICT

Cyber security essential to Singapore's survival: CSA chief David Koh The Straits Times 21st Mar 2018
As a gateway to South-east Asia and the larger Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is a small but highly connected nation-state, and cyber security is essential to the Republic’s continued prosperity and survival,  Cyber Security Agency chief David Koh said on Wednesday (March 21). Mr Koh said Singapore also offers a test bed for innovative cyber security solutions in a relatively controlled environment. “The more digitalised and connected our economy, the more important it becomes to secure our systems in cyberspace,” Mr Koh said in his keynote speech at the 3rd Annual Billington International Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

Singapore, Indonesia to share expertise on e-commerce logistics The Straits Times 12th Mar 2018
Kicking off two learning-exchange programmes between Singapore and Indonesia, about 100 public sector leaders and education specialists gathered in a half-day leadership workshop to share e-commerce related challenges from their jobs. This learning exchange comes as part of both nations' bilateral efforts to develop a digital economy, and will focus on two tracks in public administration and technical education. In particular, Temasek Foundation International, Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE), and Republic Polytechnic (RP) will work with the Indonesian government to share their knowledge in the area of e-commerce logistics, the organisations said in a joint statement.Three Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) covering two learning exchange programmes were signed by the parties on Monday (March 12).

Parliament: Singapore to start first cyber-security start-up hub The Straits Times 6th Mar 2018
Singapore is setting up its first cyber-security start-up incubation hub, with funding to be provided for new inventions, as the nation strives to carve out a role for itself in the new digital economy. Dubbed Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem @Block 71 (ICE71), the hub will open its doors to cyber-security entrepreneurs next month. It will be located in a cluster of industrial buildings in Ayer Rajah Crescent known affectionately and collectively as "Block 71". The area is currently home to about 700 technology start-ups.

Singapore’s ITE launches new Building Technologies and Solutions Centre to nurture technical workforce OpenGovAsia 5th Mar 2018
This first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to develop technical workforce for the future in the areas of building technology and facilities management. On Mar 1, Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) partnered building technology solutions company Johnson Controls to launch the new Building Technologies and Solutions Centre. Established in 1992 under the Ministry of Education of Singapore (MOE), ITE is a post-secondary education institution and a principal provider of career and technical education. At the same time, it is a key developer of national occupational skills certification and standards. Its mission is to create opportunities for students and adult learners to acquire skills, knowledge and values for employability and lifelong learning. It now has 3 ITE Colleges across the island – ITE College Central, ITE College East and ITE College West.

Singapore Budget 2018: OIP will accelerate innovation and digital transformation The Business Times 26th Feb 2018
The Open Innovation Programme (OIP) is a welcome initiative that will accelerate innovation and digital transformation among Singapore businesses, industry players told The Business Times. But for it to bear fruit, it must support iterative development and have business leaders properly identify their digital requirements and understand what "going digital" really means for them. The OIP, unveiled by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his delivery of Budget 2018 on Monday, is a new virtual crowdsourcing platform that will match the digital requirements of businesses to solutions created by infocommunications and technology (ICT) firms. It will be managed by the Info-communications Media Development Authority and launched in the second quarter this year. Francis Thangasamy, a Singapore-based vice-president at telecommunications firm CenturyLink, said: "The OIP will encourage and accelerate innovation through co-development. With the rapid rate of change driven by digitisation, it is challenging for firms to operate alone. It will make more economic sense to partner up and harness the full potential of digital transformation."

Singapore Manufacturing Sector Leads IoT Readiness in APEJ IConnect007 20th Mar 2018
Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) IoT spend in (APeJ) is expected to reach US $ 455.6 billion by 2021. Manufacturing will account for US $130.9 billion in that year according to the IDC IoT Spending guide. While APeJ has an eclectic mix of economic climates, technology preparedness and ease of doing business, it also has significant focus on IoT deployment in the manufacturing sector across mature and emerging countries of the region. Singapore spearheads the manufacturing industry IoT readiness index because of its strong government thrust and robust FDI investment to drive technology and digital transformation initiatives. There is strong focus on integration of sensors with machines and products to improve customer service, optimize asset utilization and conduct predictive maintenance – driving forward Singapore’s IoT technologies and initiatives. After the hugely successful models by IDC’s global and regional teams to evaluate the IoT readiness of the G20 nations in G20 Nations and the IoT: A Comparative Assessment (US41866816) and countries in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) in APeJ Nations and the IoT: A Comparative Assessment (AP42881317), IDC has embarked on a vertical deep dive study to develop industry readiness indices in APeJ, starting with manufacturing, followed up by retail, banking and healthcare. According to the manufacturing IoT readiness index among 13 countries in the region, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia have been identified as the top 5 IoT prepared countries in the manufacturing vertical.

Firms have small window for digital transformation: Heng The Straits Times 6th Mar 2018
Singapore companies have a narrow window of opportunity to ramp up their digital transformation efforts and raise productivity over the next few years, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. He warned that challenges surrounding the country's ageing population and shrinking citizen labour force will become increasingly acute in the next five years. Mr Heng told a post-Budget forum organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao yesterday that firms have to use this short window to restructure and transform digitally.

Centrally-managed platform being developed for Singapore government agencies to build digital applications OpenGovAsia 5th Mar 2018
The SGTS is a platform comprising layers of software and infrastructure components. These common assets are scalable, reusable and interoperable, allowing agencies to quickly launch services and dynamically scale in accordance with citizen demand. The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) is developing a centrally-managed platform, called the Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS), for public sector agencies to build their digital applications. The SGTS is a redesign of Government’s digital infrastructure, to achieve greater interoperability and agility. At the moment most government agencies develop independent services and infrastructure to meet the needs of the specific citizen or business group that they serve.

Infrastructure

Khaw: Fares to go up as operating costs rise The Straits Times 8th Mar 2018
Commuters should see public transport service standards rising in the coming years as the Government continues to invest in buses and trains. But they can expect fares to creep up as well. During a debate on his ministry's budget yesterday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "The investments we are making to improve the transport system are huge." He pointed out that his ministry's budget is now the second largest among ministries, after the Defence Ministry, and ahead of the Health, National Development and Education ministries."Over the next five years, we will provide subsidies of about $5 billion for public bus services and $4 billion to renew our rail operating assets," Mr Khaw said. "Another $20 billion will be invested in infrastructure to further expand the public transport network."

Bt Panjang LRT: Most works to be completed by 2022 The Straits Times 8th Mar 2018
Commuters riding on the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) can expect more reliable rides from 2022, when the majority of works to overhaul the problematic line is completed. The Government yesterday gave details of the $344 million renewal project for the 19-year-old system that it has awarded to the original supplier, Bombardier.The renewal project, which will start in the first half of this year, will cover the upgrade of the line's existing signalling system to a more precise communications-based train control (CBTC) system that has better control of train speeds. The new system will also have more redundancy, meaning that in the event of faults, the system will have back-ups to keep trains running.The power rail along the entire 7.8km-long BPLRT will be replaced and more robust power rail brackets will be installed.

Municipal Services Office to help with small-scale local infrastructure through new fund Channel News Asia 6th Mar 2018
The Municipal Services Office (MSO) will be able to tap into a new S$3.6 million fund to help with small-scale infrastructure projects over the next two years, announced Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on March 6. The scheme comes on top of other funding options such as the Land Transport Authority’s Walk2Ride scheme, which provides sheltered connectivity to transport nodes and the National Development Ministry's Estate Upgrading Programme.MSO is also working towards improving processes at the planning stage. For a start, MSO and NEA are working with infrastructure agencies, in consultation with the town councils to establish design specifications and guidelines that will facilitate cleaning operations. The guidelines on the design of new public infrastructure will make them easier to clean and support mechanisation efforts by cleaning contractors. Separately, the MSO said it has worked with several government agencies to identify design features and develop design guidelines to facilitate the cleaning and landscape maintenance of public infrastructure.

Singapore Budget 2018: Infrastructure Office to be launched in October The Business Times 5th Mar 2018
The upcoming Infrastructure Office aims to deepen understanding of the project pipeline, promote collaboration between foreign and local firms across the entire infrastructure value chain, and facilitate projects. Set up by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Office will also tap agencies such as the Economic Development Board and the Professional Services Programme Office.

International Air Transport Association 'disappointed' with new Changi Airport passenger levy Channel News Asia 28th Feb 2018
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that it is "disappointed" with the decision to charge travellers flying out of Changi Airport with a new levy to fund the development of Changi East and Terminal 5. The global airline voice's regional vice-president (Asia Pacific) Conrad Clifford told that the industry is against pre-funding for infrastructure projects, where passengers and airlines have to pay for services and facilities they do not currently utilise. He added that while IATA recognises that the Singapore Government will be bearing the "majority of the costs" for the development of Changi East and Terminal 5, it is "still disappointed" with the decision to proceed with the charges "despite the feedback provided by the industry".

Rail Infrastructure Fund to propel spending growth Singapore Business Review 25th Feb 2018
Rail Infrastructure Fund to propel spending growth. It will also drive construction sector growth by 2.7% annually between 2018 and 2022. Singapore’s new measures to expand fund sources for infrastructure projects are likely to drive long-term infrastructure spending growth. At the 2018 budget announcement, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the establishment of Rail Infrastructure Fund and the possible permission to allow government agencies and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to issue bonds for funding of infrastructure projects.In line with this, BMI Research expects the new funding measures to push the growth in construction sector as residential and non-residential building momentum slows down. Whilst the construction sector shrank by 8.4% in 2017, BMI Research predicts growth at annual average of 2.7% between 2018 and 2022.

Formula 1 technology being adapted to monitor MRT train performance in Singapore OpenGovAsia 20th Mar 2018
The technology is commonly used aboard Formula 1 race cars to provide vital real-time information to the Formula 1 pit crews and mission control. The SMRT-McLaren Applied Technologies team will work on customising the solutions to monitor the train motors, brakes, pneumatic systems and gearboxes fitted aboard one SMRT train. SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT), one of Singapore’s largest public transportation providers, and McLaren Applied Technologies, will work together on condition-monitoring solutions used in Formula 1 (F1) for tracking and predicting the performance of SMRT trains. SMRT operates the North-South, East-West and Circle lines in the Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

Manufacturing

Singapore semiconductor growth to ease in 2018: Industry group Channel NewsAsia 1st Mar 2018
Singapore's semiconductor output growth in 2018 will probably moderate compared with last year's strong expansion, amid recent signs of softening in global demand for mobile devices, the head of a local semiconductor industry group said on Thursday. Singapore's trade-reliant economy grew at its fastest pace in three years in 2017 with an expansion of 3.6 per cent, getting a boost from a pick-up in global demand for electronics products. The semiconductor industry gave a large boost to the city state's growth last year, with semiconductor output having surged 48 per cent in 2017, according to data from the Economic Development Board. Singapore's semiconductor production in 2018 is unlikely to be as strong as last year, Mr C.K. Tan, the president of the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA), told Reuters on the sidelines of the 2018 SSIA summit. "Right now these two months, you will see some softness depending on the market segment. I think automotive continued to be strong. Those that apply to the consumer market, like handsets ... there's a little bit of a slowdown," Mr Tan said.

Manufacturing output expands by 17.9% in January Singapore Business Review 26th Feb 2018
The electronics cluster delivered the most outputs. Singapore’s total manufacturing output in January jumped by 17.9% year-on-year (yoy), the Economic and Development Board (EDB) reported. The electronics cluster recorded the highest output growth with 32.4% yoy, followed by precision engineering with 24.5%, chemicals with 13.7%, general manufacturing with 11.6%, biomedical manufacturing with 2.5%, and transport engineering with 1.4%. Despite the growth, only 10% of manufacturers expect their output to increase in the first quarter of 2018. Biomedical manufacturing firms are the most optimistic (45%), followed by precision engineering (24%), and chemicals (5%). The manufacturing sector grew by 10.1% in 2017, which pushed the 5.7% growth in the goods producing industries. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is expecting the manufacturing sector to continuously grow and significantly contribute the country’s overall economy in 2018.

New initiatives to support manufacturing companies, trade ecosystem and startups in Singapore OpenGovAsia 5th Mar 2018
A*STAR is going to extend the reach of its Operation and Technology Roadmapping (OTR) service through consortium-style OTRs. To further strengthen Singapore’s trade ecosystem, the Government will establish the Trade Infrastructure Development Fund (TIDF) this year. To support startups, SPRING will also be launching the Startup SG (SSG) Network later this year. During the Committee of Supply (COS) debate in the Singapore parliament on 2 March, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Trade and Industry, talked about new initiatives to help local manufacturing companies adopt advanced technology, strengthen the trade ecosystem and support startups.