Singapore Update: April 12, 2018

Singapore Update | April 12, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith and Natalie McDaniel
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

April 16: BRI Business Dialogue: Navigating Infrastructure Opportunities for Fruitful Collaboration

April 18: First Planning Call for the Mission to the 2018 ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting

April 26: Roundtable on the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy Project

April 26: 2018 US-ABC Annual Gala Dinner

May 2-4: Mission to the 2018 ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting

May 14: ASEAN Presidents' Luncheon Series on Blockchain with Professor David Lee Kuo Chen

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore Joins APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System and Privacy Recognition for Processors System
On March 6, the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore announced that it had become the sixth APEC economy to join the Cross-Border Privacy Rules System (CBPR) and the second APEC economy to join the Privacy Recognition for Processors System (PRP).  Alongside Singapore, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and the Republic of Korea also participate in the CBPR, while the United States was the lone participant in the PRP until Singapore joined.  The press release issued by APEC (available here) called Singapore’s move to join the CBPR a, “further boost for e-commerce growth and the protection of sensitive online consumer data in the Asia-Pacific.”  The move also aligns with one of Singapore’s main themes for its ASEAN Chairmanship year – innovation and the digital economy, as well as the development of e-commerce trade rules for ASEAN.  Joining CBPR shows that Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act adheres to a framework that facilitates data flows between countries, and also allows for the prevention of the accidental disclosure and misuse of personal data that is utilized for online transactions.  Under the CBPR system, companies operating in Singapore will adhere to privacy policies and practices that voluntarily follow commonly agreed upon rules that are based on the APEC Privacy Framework.  A third-party verifier, which is called an Accountability Agent, assesses and certifies companies as to their adherence to the CBPR system.  According to the APEC press release, Singapore’s participation in the PRP signifies the ability of its personal information processors to, “demonstrate their ability to provide effective implementation of a personal information controller’s privacy obligations related to the processing of personal information.”

MAS and Financial Industry to Develop Guidance on Responsible Use of Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence 
On April 2, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that it is working with stakeholders to develop a guide to promote the responsible and ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics by financial institutions (full media release available here). The guide “will set out key principles and best practices” for the use of AI and data analytics, which will help financial institutions “strengthen internal governance and reduce risks of data misuse”. MAS intends to cover all segments of the financial sector, including FinTech firms. To co-create the guide, MAS brought together a group of leaders and practitioners in data analytics as a Fairness, Ethics, Accountability and Transparency (FEAT) Committee. MAS stated that it will be engaging the industry to obtain views and feedback on the proposed guide in Q2 2018.  They plan to complete the guide by the end of this year. MAS is also working closely with Infocomm Media Development Authority to coordinate a broader understanding of AI governance across sector. The Singapore government has been supporting AI initiatives island-wide through a program called AI Singapore.  MAS guidelines may be the start of a general trend of regulating AI ethics. The Council will follow this development and alert members when opportunities for feedback are available.

First Singaporean Medical Device HTA Guidance Released
On March 29, the Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE), the national health technology assessment agency that is part of Singapore's Ministry of Health, published the first Health Technology Assessment (HTA) evaluation for a medical device in Singapore. The technology evaluated was bilateral cochlear implants (CI) for children with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Medical Technology Advisory Committee recommended the implants as early as clinically suitable, and a recommendation was made to provide subsidies to the CI devices (standard package) in the Annex of the report. It includes products from four different companies, which differs from how drugs are typically subsidized, as typically only the cheapest molecule in a therapeutic class receives subsidies. Possible reasons for this include a non-significant difference between the prices of the recommended devices, and that device design may differ to the point that one model does not fit the needs of all patients.  

The expansion of the HTA process in Singapore to include medical devices helps to provide manufacturers with clarity on expectations and processes around government subsidies for devices. In February 2018, the ACE Drug Evaluation Methods and Process Guide laid out the process for evaluating drugs in Singapore. A revision or separate document would help ensure consistency of the evaluation process for medical devices and indicate how much the ACE will focus on medical device HTA. At the present, it is unclear how HTA will be used in Singapore for medical devices, and which medical devices will undergo HTA in the future.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
On March 28, the Singapore Committee held its first Quarterly Call for 2018.  During the call we reviewed the Committee's activities in 2017 and discussed advocacy priorities and upcoming engagements as part of the review of the Singapore Committee's 2018 Work Plan.  Notes from the call are provided below (a pdf version of the notes can be found here).  An updated version of the 2018 Work Plan for the Singapore Committee can be found here.  If you have any questions about the call or the 2018 Work Plan, please contact Riley Smith at rsmith@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Singapore and China ink deal on Belt & Road markets cooperation

National Affairs
Singapore's 4G leadership not just about who will be next PM, but about a capable team: PM Lee Hsien Loong
Cabinet reshuffle the next item on Singapore's political calendar
Parliament begins half-time recess, will reopen on May 7 with President's Address drafted by 4G ministers
New Enterprise Singapore launches services for firms

Customs
Singapore inks new TPP trade pact with 10 other countries: 5 things to know about the CPTPP

Economics
Singapore reserves grew 10.52% to US$286.96b
Inflation hit 40-month high at 0.5% in February
Trade tensions put heat on MAS tightening
Will Singapore be caught in the US-China trade dogfight?

Energy
Singapore's solar capabilities to be strengthened through 3 new research projects
A*STAR lab to develop safer, non-flammable batteries
Power retailers may default amidst heated bout in Singapore's open energy market

Financial Services
Nearly 7 in 10 consumers embrace digital banking
Proposed Amendments to the Over-The-Counter (OTC) Derivatives Contract Reporting Regime
Burden of rescuing failed banks in Singapore likely to rest on MAS, shareholders: Moody's
MAS, finance industry to develop guide on use of AI, data analytics
Is Singapore failing in its bid for Asia's IPO market?

Health & Life Sciences
Singapore needs to control inpatient costs amidst high medical inflation
Changes planned to improve TCM sector
Release of First Medical Device HTA Guidance in Singapore
Senior nurses will be able to refer patients for community rehabilitation from April 16
Singapore pharma on recovery path after worst output in decades
Fewer new tuberculosis cases in Singapore in 2017

ICT
Singapore remains at top for talent competitiveness for 5th year in a row
Singapore launches virtual sandbox for new generation cloud solutions
Singapore Plans Blockchain Push to Boost Financial Inclusion
Iranian hackers breach Singapore universities to access research data
Singapore converting world’s first integrated dispute resolution complex into smart facility
New Robotics Centre launched at one-north to support robotics & automation startups in Singapore
GovTech to have new chief executive from May
Singapore's data breach fines are the most brutal in Asia
Singapore Joins APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System and Privacy Recognition for Processors Program

Infrastructure
Singapore's improvements in livability are the ninth best in Asia
How Singapore is solving public sector challenges with innovative solutions from research institutes and the private sector | OpenGovAsia

Manufacturing
Manufacturing sector is recovering amidst volatility: analysts
Manufacturing output up 8.9% in February
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Singapore and China ink deal on Belt & Road markets cooperation Singapore Business Review 9th Apr 2018
Singapore and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that aims to promote greater collaboration between Singapore and Chinese companies in third-party markets along the Belt & Road. Under this MOU, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and Enterprise Singapore will form a working group to identify sectors and markets of mutual interest. They will also organise business matching activities and forums to facilitate third-party market cooperation between Singapore and Chinese companies along the Belt & Road. “Singapore and China will also work with commercial and policy banks, insurers, and financial institutions to support the financing and project structuring needs of third-party market ventures by companies from both sides,” MTI said.

National Affairs

Singapore's 4G leadership not just about who will be next PM, but about a capable team: PM Lee Hsien Loong The Straits Times 12th Apr 2018
The issue of who will be Singapore's next prime minister goes beyond finding the person most suited for the post. More important is having a capable team that can work well together, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday (April 12). He noted that many qualities are needed for national leadership and to find a single candidate with the qualities and able to "do it all" would be unrealistic and impossible. "What is important is the team. If among the team's members they have enough of these qualities, are able to cooperate and together, drive Singapore forward, lead the country - this is the most crucial," he said. PM Lee, 66, who has previously made clear he intends to hand over to a successor by the time he turns 70, in 2022, added: "We have to find a competent team that can work closely together, win the confidence of the people, lead them, and meet and solve challenges together, carve out a new path, and make Singaporeans proud."

Cabinet reshuffle the next item on Singapore's political calendar The Straits Times 4th Apr 2018
The next item on the political calendar is a major Cabinet reshuffle, now that Parliament has taken its mid-term break. The reshuffle will likely see some older ministers making way for younger ones, said MP Zainal Sapari. While leadership renewal is good, it is also important to ensure some form of continuity, he added. "I hope the arrangement of coordinating ministers will continue, such as having Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam overseeing several ministries, to ensure guidance for younger ministers and continuity in terms of the Government's long-term strategic plans," he said. MP Lily Neo said that while some of the fourth-generation leaders may see a change in their portfolio, they are likely up to the challenge. "We have seen them at work already, and they have already proven they are capable," she added. Public policy researcher Gillian Koh said that the younger political leaders will have the opportunity "to stamp their mark on new policies, policy reforms or new programmes" in the next parliamentary session. The front runners to be the next prime minister will likely be given greater exposure in "heavy-weight ministries" such as defence, trade and industry, and finance, she added.

Parliament begins half-time recess, will reopen on May 7 with President's Address drafted by 4G ministers The Straits Times 3rd Apr 2018
Parliament takes its customary mid-term break from Tuesday (April 3), and will reopen next month with a fresh agenda. The President's Address to kick off the second session of Parliament on May 7 will be closely watched, as it will be the first one to be drafted by the fourth generation of ministers. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year message this year that the Government "will lay out its agenda for the rest of the term" in this major speech, which is drafted by the government of the day but delivered by the President. With the announcement of the Parliament recess, the next major item now on the political calendar is a Cabinet reshuffle. PM Lee had said that this is "to give the younger (Cabinet) members more exposure and responsibility". "This way, my successor will be supported by a stronger and more experienced team, committed to leading Singapore to a better and brighter future," said Mr Lee in a Facebook post in February. The three frontrunners to lead the fourth generation are Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing and Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.

New Enterprise Singapore launches services for firms Singapore Business Review 2nd Apr 2018
Enterprise Singapore was officially launched today. The organisation is the result of the merger of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and SPRING Singapore. According to an announcement, it will enhance its global networks to support companies going overseas, which includes working with them to capture new opportunities in emerging markets and sourcing for technology solutions and partners in developed markets. Enterprise Singapore will also streamline its assistance and processes to support the growth of committed companies. A new Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) integrates three existing programmes for companies to apply for ready-to-adopt IT solutions and equipment to improve productivity. The new Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) combines the Global Company Partnership (GCP) Grant and Capability Development Grant (CDG) into one single grant to support companies to transform and innovate. EDG will be available from October 2018.

Customs

Singapore inks new TPP trade pact with 10 other countries: 5 things to know about the CPTPP Channel NewsAsia 27th Mar 2018
Moving along without the United States, the remaining 11 countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Thursday (Mar 8) signed a new version of the multilateral trade pact, resuscitating a landmark deal that would slash tariffs and foster trade in a market with a combined output of US$10 trillion (S$13 trillion).  The inking of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TPP (CPTPP) in Chile followed the conclusion of talks in January and marked a turnaround of fate after Washington’s withdrawal a year ago left it in limbo. 

Economics

Singapore reserves grew 10.52% to US$286.96b Singapore Business Review 10th Apr 2018
Singapore’s official reserves in March climbed by 10.52% YoY from $259.64b in 2017 to $286.96b in 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) revealed. According to preliminary data, gold and forex reserves gained 3.8% YoY from $360.08b to $373.78b. Meanwhile, Singapore's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hit $1.08m, whilst its special drawing rights dipped to $1.42m from last month.

Inflation hit 40-month high at 0.5% in February Singapore Business Review 30th Mar 2018
Singapore’s CPI-All Items inflation rose 0.5%, whilst MAS core inflation rose 1.7% in February. According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), higher inflation reflected higher services and food inflation, and in the case of CPI-All Items inflation, a smaller decline in the cost of accommodation as well. CPI-All Items inflation reached 0.5%, because of “a milder decline in the cost of accommodation, and to a lesser extent, a stronger pickup in the prices of services and food, which, collectively, more than offset the decline in private road transport inflation. The cost of accommodation fell by 3.6% in February, moderating from the 5.3% decline in the preceding month, as the dampening effect of the disbursement of Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates in January dissipated,” MTI said. The ministry added that services inflation jumped to 1.9% in February from 1.3% in January, as a rise in air fares and holiday expenses, following the year-ago declines in the previous month, more than offset the smaller increase in recreational & cultural services fees. Food inflation also rose to 1.5% in February from 1.1% in the previous month, reflecting a larger increase in the prices of non-cooked food items, and to a lesser extent, the cost of prepared meals, due to the seasonal uptick in food prices associated with Chinese New Year.

Trade tensions put heat on MAS tightening Singapore Business Review 26th Mar 2018
According to JP Morgan Singapore, Singapore’s semiannual policy review likely will be scheduled in April. Some analysts think the trade tensions could dent growth and weigh on how the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will respond to it through policy tightening. JP Morgan analyst Benjamin Shatil noted that the past week’s escalation in trade tensions represents a wildcard for policy. “A material disruption to the export cycle upswing could depress growth via Singapore’s important position in regional supply chains, thereby challenging our baseline output gap and inflation forecasts. Whether this potentially negative force directly impacts the April policy decision will depend on whether policymakers now view it as a base-case outcome rather than a tail risk scenario. At this juncture, our bias is still the latter.” Shatil maintained a forecast of continued broadening of growth and gradual reduction in labour market slack, underpinning a moderate rise in core prices. “This dynamic should guide policy toward a modest tightening stance next month,” he said.

Will Singapore be caught in the US-China trade dogfight? Singapore Business Review 23rd Mar 2018
Global bourses are tense over fears of a trade war. Previously, Trump announced his intention to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminium imports. It has also been announced that the EU, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Korea are now exempted from the steel and aluminium tariffs, a Morgan Stanley report revealed. UOB reported that China’s Commerce Ministry said on Friday that while it does not hope for a trade war, the country is “not afraid of engaging in one”. Whilst the impact of the tariffs may be relatively small, “the concern will be whether this will spiral into an all-out trade war which clearly would be an overall negative for the US & the rest of the world,” said analyst Alvin Liew. “For now, the unfolding trade tensions are not expected to have a significantly negative impact on global economic growth this year but the extent of the impact depends on any tit-for-tat reactions from China,” Liew added. Lizza noted that Singapore will generally be fairly safe initially from the tariffs as the US goes after larger global debtors such as China and Mexico. “The island state is in surplus to the states, but the major issue is whether or not Asia as a continent gets dragged into a slugging match with the US. China's response to the tariffs is key and as we can see it was relatively measured.” Worries can be rooted from the fact that Singapore’s trade-dependent economy will be negatively affected by the tension between the US and China. BMI Research senior analyst Chia Shuhui noted that exports could be negatively affected since they comprised 173% of the GDP in 2017.

Energy

Singapore's solar capabilities to be strengthened through 3 new research projects Channel NewsAsia 5th Apr 2018
Three flagship research and development projects, aimed at diversifying the industrial uses of solar power, are set to be spearheaded by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) in its efforts to propel Singapore in the sector.  SERIS CEO Professor Armin Aberle announced this on Thursday (Apr 5) during the institute's 10th anniversary celebration.  Housed in the National University of Singapore (NUS), the institute was founded in 2008 as a government initiative to stimulate the establishment of clean technology as a future pillar of the economy. To achieve its aim, the institute has planned three new flagship R&D projects for its next decade of research into clean technology. For the first project, SERIS will collaborate with Nanyang Technological University and the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise to develop a 30 per cent efficient thin-film-on-silicon tandem solar cell. The second project will aim to develop photovoltaic modules (or solar panels) that can be integrated on building surfaces apart from roofs, such as the facade. Meanwhile, the third project will look to expand the institute's current achievements in "floating solar" and develop a multi-purpose floating system of photovoltaic modules that will be suitable for off-shore use.

A*STAR lab to develop safer, non-flammable batteries Channel NewsAsia 4th Apr 2018
Safer alternatives to lithium-ion batteries may soon be developed in Singapore in a collaboration with a Canadian clean energy producer. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) NanoBio Lab have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Canada's Hydro-Quebec to finance a US$20 million joint-laboratory for battery research, it announced on Wednesday (Apr 4). The new laboratory, located in biomedical research hub Biopolis, will employ more than 30 researchers.  It aims to improve non-flammable solid-state batteries, which are considered to be a safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are currently used in electronic devices including tablets, fitness trackers and smartphones, as well as personal mobility devices such as the hoverboard.  The lab will also focus on developing new nanomaterials and nanotechnologies for electric vehicles and energy storage that are safe, efficient and cost-effective.

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).

Financial Services

Nearly 7 in 10 consumers embrace digital banking Singapore Business Review 12th Apr 2018
Singapore is amongst the countries leading the rest of the world in its residents’ attitude towards digital banking alternatives, according to a report from Oracle, which revealed that seven in 10 Singaporeans are open to such alternatives - a figure slightly higher than the global average of 67%. The lion city ranks sixth globally and fourth in APAC in openness to digital banking, trailing after the more populous countries of India and China who score 81.03% and 80.97% respectively. Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa were able to notch the third, fourth and fifth spots. Singapore also scored the top spot for usage of online banking websites (82.5%) but only snagged 5th place for mobile banking app usage, ceding the top spots to Brazil, China and South Africa.

Proposed Amendments to the Over-The-Counter (OTC) Derivatives Contract Reporting Regime Lexology 11th Apr 2018
On 28 March 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published its response to feedback (MAS Feedback) received on its proposed amendments to the OTC derivatives contract reporting regime, the proposed amendments of which were set out in MAS' previous Consultation Paper on the Proposed Amendments to the Securities & Futures (Reporting of Derivatives Contracts) Regulations dated 18 January 2016.

Burden of rescuing failed banks in Singapore likely to rest on MAS, shareholders: Moody's The Business Times 3rd Apr 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is more likely to resolve a failing bank by getting equity holders to pay the price than by forcing creditors to accept haircuts, Moody's Investors Service has said in a report. Citing a recent review of the Singapore financial system by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), Moody's noted that Singapore's framework for "bail-ins" covers a narrow band of liabilities, which would limit the framework's ability to get creditors to share the pain in a default situation.

MAS, finance industry to develop guide on use of AI, data analytics Channel NewsAsia 2nd Apr 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Monday (Apr 2) that it is developing a guide to promote responsible and ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics by financial institutions. In a media release, MAS said that it will work with key industry stakeholders with the aim of completing the guide by the end of the year. The guide will set out key principles and best practices to help financial institutions to "strengthen internal governance and reduce risks of data misuse". MAS said it has also brought together a group of leaders and practitioners in data analytics in the financial sector to help in the process.

Is Singapore failing in its bid for Asia's IPO market? Singapore Business Review 2nd Apr 2018
As the regional stock exchange competition heats up, the Singapore stock exchange may be losing more than it gains as there were more cross-border listings than IPOs held within its own borders in Q1, according to EY’s first quarter Global IPO report.  Hong Kong continues to be a preferred IPO destination in the region as the report noted that three in five cross border IPOs, which raised a combined US$115m, were Singapore companies. Back home, however, things are noticeably dismal as only one flotation which raised $0.01b was registered in Singapore as of March 14. This represents a 67% decline QoQ and puts the lion city at par with Myanmar in numbers of listings. Things are looking grim for Singapore especially when pitted against Hong Kong which registered over a third of public listings (57) in Asia Pacific which collectively raised $3.09b in the period until March 14. Indonesia registered 3 IPOs whilst Malaysia and Thailand were able to post 6 listings over the same period. Singapore may need to do more to catch up with its regional peers as the year ahead holds more heated competition between local ASEAN exchanges for Southeast Asian listings, EY suggested.   

Health & Life Sciences

Singapore needs to control inpatient costs amidst high medical inflation Singapore Business Review 9th Apr 2018
High medical fees still drive inflation even if it has dropped from 20% to 9.6% in three years. According to the Aon Medical Inflation Index (AMII), which compares the average medical inflation rate in each location for 2017 and 2018 with a projected inflation rate for the next three years, Singapore scored 95.1—lagging behind the regional median AMII score of 82.7 and the 8th highest of the markets surveyed. Costs remain high even if the medical inflation in Singapore has dropped from 20% in 2014 to 9.6% in 2017. The country narrowly avoids joining the high inflation markets of Pakistan (115.3), Malaysia (132.4), and Vietnam (164.5).

Changes planned to improve TCM sector The Straits Times 5th Apr 2018
The 3,200 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners here will need to keep upgrading their knowledge throughout their careers - just as mainstream doctors are required to do - if the laws are amended to make it mandatory. The Ministry of Health (MOH) would like to make continuing professional education (CPE) compulsory for those in the sector, as part of several changes to bring it in line with what is being done with other healthcare professionals, such as pharmacists and dentists. It also wants, for instance, to sharply raise the maximum fine that the TCM Practitioners Board can impose on errant practitioners and give it powers to examine if someone is fit to practise.

Release of First Medical Device HTA Guidance in Singapore LinkedIn 6th Apr 2018
The first HTA evaluation for a medical device in Singapore was published by the Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE) on 29th March 2018, marking a further evolution of HTA in the country less than 12 months after the first pharmaceutical evaluation was published. The technology evaluated was bilateral cochlear implants for children with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, and a recommendation was made to provide subsidies for the technology.

Senior nurses will be able to refer patients for community rehabilitation from April 16 The Straits Times 5th Apr 2018
From April 16, senior and experienced clinical nurses, called advanced practice nurses, will be able to assess and refer patients for subsidised community rehabilitation. Such rehabilitation will take place at senior care centres and day rehabilitation centres. The move, which expands the role of nurses in the community, is part of efforts to have nurses play a bigger part in healthcare, especially with an ageing population and more patients suffering from chronic diseases. Focus will also be put on enabling nurses to spend more time doing what they do best: Patient care.

Singapore pharma on recovery path after worst output in decades Reuters 30th Mar 2018
Singapore’s pharmaceuticals business, among the pillars of the city-state’s manufacturing sector, is set to return to strength this year as big global drugmakers ramp up output and advance automation at their production sites across the country. A recovery from dismal 2017, which marked the sector’s worst contraction in two decades, would underpin Singapore’s economic growth. Pharmaceuticals is the No.2 contributor to the country’s manufacturing output and accounts for 3 percent of its GDP.

Fewer new tuberculosis cases in Singapore in 2017 Channel NewsAsia 23rd Mar 2018
The number of new cases of active tuberculosis (TB) in Singapore fell to 1,536 last year from 1,617 in 2016, according to a press release by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Mar 23). Ahead of World TB Day on Saturday, the ministry also reported a smaller incidence rate of 38.7 cases per 100,000 population in 2017, compared with 41.2 per 100,000 the previous year. Men and those aged 50 years old and above continued to make up a significant proportion of the new cases at 68.2 per cent and 66.7 per cent, respectively.

ICT

Singapore remains at top for talent competitiveness for 5th year in a row Business Insider Singapore 10th Apr 2018
When it comes to competing for talent, Singapore is again in the top spot in Asia Pacific for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2018. The results were announced on April 10, during GTCI’s Asia launch event at the Insead campus in Singapore. Singapore also comes in second to Switzerland on the global scale, out of the 119 countries ranked in the annual benchmarking report, produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and Tata Communications. It is also the only Asian Pacific country in the top 10, which is dominated by European countries. This year’s theme was ‘Diversity for Competitiveness’, and emphasises the need for diversity to build innovative teams and allow organisations to operate in multicultural environments. As an aspiring smart nation, keeping technology in mind is necessary for talent competition in Singapore.

Singapore launches virtual sandbox for new generation cloud solutions OpenGovAsia 10th Apr 2018
The Digital Transformation Foundry by SingTel and VMware is designed as a “virtual sandbox” for customers to conduct proof-of-concept experiments to help bring their digital solutions to market more quickly. Asannounced on 10 April, Singtel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with enterprise software innovator VMware to jointly provide solutions to accelerate the digital transformation of enterprises across the Asia Pacific region.   The two companies will set up their first Digital Transformation Foundry in Singapore to co-create new generation cloud solutions.  Enterprises can test their solutions in a hybrid cloud environment, for example, allowing them to implement cloud-enabled workplaces more smoothly, in turn lowering costs, achieving better operational efficiencies and improving productivity.

Singapore Plans Blockchain Push to Boost Financial Inclusion CoinDesk 9th Apr 2018
The Singapore government is looking to boost blockchain development in an effort to improve financial inclusion for Southeast Asian countries. In opening remarks for a meeting with finance ministers from Southeast Asian countries on Friday, Heng Swee Keat, Singapore's minister for finance, highlighted the government's plans to foster innovations such as blockchain to improve access to finance in the region. "In particular, we will support digital innovations like fintech. For example, the underlying distributed ledger technology presents us with many opportunities for cheap and secure transactions. This can promote financial inclusion for underserved and underbanked segments in ASEAN," the minister said. Although Heng did not disclose precise details on any blockchain initiatives, his comments come at a time when governments in Southeast Asia have been stepping up efforts to develop and adopt blockchain tech in the financial sector.

Iranian hackers breach Singapore universities to access research data ZDNet 4th Apr 2018
Iranian hackers have targeted four Singapore universities in a wave of attacks believed to be part of last month's security breach involving global education institutions. At least 52 accounts were affected across the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University, and Singapore University of Technology and Design, according to a joint statement Tuesday by Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and Ministry of Education (MOE). The government agencies said they learnt of the breach last week. Hackers had used phishing attacks to harvest credentials from affected staff members and used these to gain access to the institutes' online libraries and research articles published by the academic staff. Based on their investigations, CSA and MOE said no sensitive data had been stolen and the attacks did not appear to be linked to the APT attacks against NUS and NTU last year.

Singapore converting world’s first integrated dispute resolution complex into smart facility OpenGovAsia 4th Apr 2018
The adoption of technology will provide better services, as well help Maxwell Chambers boost productivity, meet growing demand, and result in significant time and cost savings. The total cost savings from the smart solutions are estimated to be over half a million dollars a year. Today Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and Maxwell Chambers launched the “Smart Maxwell” initiative to convert Maxwell Chambers , the world’s first integrated dispute resolution complex into the world’s first smart hearing facility. It will use smart technology to offer more convenient, secure and comfortable hearings for businesses, legal counsel, arbitrators and mediators. Turning Maxwell Chambers into a smart hearing facility is part of the Ministry of Law’s (MinLaw) larger plan to boost Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution hub.

New Robotics Centre launched at one-north to support robotics & automation startups in Singapore OpenGovAsia 28th Mar 2018
The Centre has been established through a collaboration between the Action Community for Entrepreneurship, a national private sector-led organisation to help drive entrepreneurship in Singapore, and the Advanced New Technology Incubator, the corporate venture arm of the PBA Group, an integrated provider of motion control, robotics and automation products. A new Robotics Centre was opened on 23 March 2018 at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, the heart of Singapore’s startup ecosystem hub, to support robotics and automation startups. 

GovTech to have new chief executive from May Channel NewsAsia 9th Apr 2018
The Government Technology Agency will have a new chief executive (CE) from May, with the current CE Jacqueline Poh to be succeeded by Mr Kok Ping Soon, deputy secretary (Development) in the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).  The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said in its press release on Monday (Apr 9) that Mr Kok oversees national policies and programmes related to workplace safety and health, human capital development, and SGSecure for Workplaces, as well as initiatives on service excellence, digitalisation, people engagement and future-ready capability building in his role at MOM. Before his current role, he was senior director of National Security Co-ordination Centre within the National Security Co-ordination Secretariat in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Singapore's data breach fines are the most brutal in Asia Singapore Business Review 27th Mar 2018
Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong are the top markets that incur the harshest penalties for data breaches as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), whilst Japan, India and Thailand are at the bottom of the scale, Dell EMC revealed in a study. Based on the research, Singapore appears to have the highest amount of financial penalty that can be imposed on corporations, as fines hit $1m for non-compliance with any of its data protection provisions. The study was made before the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) due to be implemented in late May. However, a previous EY study showed that even if 70% of bosses are expressing increasing concern over data privacy compliance, only 10% of Singapore firms have plans to protect their information by preparing for the GDPR.

Singapore Joins APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System and Privacy Recognition for Processors Program Lexology 23rd Mar 2018
Singapore recently became the latest country to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (“APEC”) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (“CBPR”) System. Singapore is the CBPR’s sixth participant, joining the United States, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and the Republic of Korea. Singapore also became the second country to join APEC’s new Privacy Recognition for Processors (“PRP”) program, joining only the United States. As a member of APEC’s CBPR, Singapore’s personal data protection regime has been deemed to be in alignment with the CBPR’s focus on facilitating data flows between economies and preventing accidental disclosure and misuse of personal data vis-à-vis online transactions. Remarking on this move, Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commissioner Tan Kiat How stated, “[t]he seamless exchange of personal data will enable certified Singapore business to plug into even more regional and global business opportunities. Meanwhile, our consumers will enjoy greater peace of mind when they shop or use vital services online.”

Infrastructure

Singapore's improvements in livability are the ninth best in Asia Singapore Business Review 4th Apr 2018
Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Living survey revealed that in the span of 20 years, Singapore was able to its livability score by 4.7%, making it the ninth best grower in Asia. This improvement is important for companies when relocating their executives from one country another, the company revealed. Mercer global mobility practice leader in Asia Mario Ferraro told Singapore Business Review, “Singapore’s strengths in quality of living and infrastructure consistently outperform the other cities in Asia and these factors continue to be important considerations for companies when relocating executives from one country to another, as well as for determining hardship allowances that are fair and consistent,” he said.

How Singapore is solving public sector challenges with innovative solutions from research institutes and the private sector | OpenGovAsia Open Gov Asia 3rd Apr 2018
Public sector innovation is a key aspect of Singapore’s Smart Nation journey. As government agencies seek to deliver better service and to improve the lives of citizens, they face a variety of challenges. These challenges could be addressed through technologies being developed by Research Institutes (RIs), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and commercial entities. But how can the two be connected? The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)’s Innoleap Programme and Translational Research and Development for Application to Smart Nation (TRANS) Grant aim to bridge this gap and bring government agencies and the RIs, IHLs, and commercial entities together to tackle these problems.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing sector is recovering amidst volatility: analysts Singapore Business Review 26th Mar 2018
Analysts raised their economic growth forecasts and said the manufacturing sector is leading to a recovery amidst volatility brought about by the Lunar New Year. Manufacturing output grew 8.9% YoY in February 2018. “Looking through Lunar New Year volatility, momentum has been gradually recovering in line with our forecast of acceleration in GDP toward 4% QoQ saar this quarter from around half that rate in Q4 last year,” JP Morgan regional Asia economist Benjamin Shatil said. OCBC Treasury Research and Strategy head Selena Ling also said the 13% growth in January-February marked a healthy start and may present upside risks to both 1Q2018 manufacturing and GDP growth. “We upgrade our 1Q2018 manufacturing growth forecast to 11.5% YoY which should underpin overall GDP growth at 5.1% YoY for 1Q2018 as well,” she added. Ling, however, is not keeping her hopes high up. “The current escalation of global trade tensions, specifically between the US and China, may present to be dampening factors on any near-term optimism that may arise from the manufacturing data,” she added. Shatil also expects overall production momentum to reach a plateau in coming months, in line with other regional exporters. “The sustained broadening of the recovery across sectors will be an important factor in supporting domestic demand, reducing slack, and guiding policy tighter at the April review,” he added.

Manufacturing output up 8.9% in February Singapore Business Review 26th Mar 2018
General manufacturing output dipped 6.3% due to fewer production days during the Lunar New Year. Singapore’s manufacturing output grew 8.9% YoY in February 2018, the Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 9.1%. According to a press release, general manufacturing output fell 6.3% as all segments recorded output declines partly due to fewer production days in February as a result of Lunar New Year. The food, beverages & tobacco, miscellaneous industries and printing segments contracted 4.3%, 6.1% and 15.6% respectively. Electronics output expanded 17.4% in February 2018 thanks to the robust growth of the semiconductors segment (26.7%). However, it was offset by the output of the infocomms & consumer electronics, data storage and other electronic modules & components segments declined 9.1%, 21.8% and 24.5% respectively. Biomedical manufacturing output grew 8.4%. Pharmaceuticals output grew 15.2% on the back of higher production in biological products whilst output in the medical technology segment fell 7.2%.