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Addenda to the President’s Address: MCCY, MOF on partnering the people and emerging stronger from Covid-19

SINGAPORE — Two ministries and four agencies under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday (Aug 28) mapped out their plans to build strong partnerships and trust between the Government and the people in their addenda to President Halimah Yacob’s address.

The addenda submitted by two ministries and four agencies under the Prime Minister's Office on Aug 28, 2020 will be debated in Parliament on Aug 31, 2020.

The addenda submitted by two ministries and four agencies under the Prime Minister's Office on Aug 28, 2020 will be debated in Parliament on Aug 31, 2020.

  • MCCY, MOF and four PMO departments set out their priorities for the new parliamentary term
  • MCCY will convene a new Emerging Stronger Conversations platform, through which people may reflect on their Covid-19 experience
  • MOF pledges to ensure that fiscal balance is put back on a stable path when the economy recovers
  • The four PMO divisions will work towards a more efficient public service, with a better organised whole-of-Government response to national issues

 

SINGAPORE — Two ministries and four agencies under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday (Aug 28) mapped out their plans to build strong partnerships and trust between the Government and the people in their addenda to President Halimah Yacob’s address.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF), as well as the four PMO divisions — the Strategy Group, the Public Service Division (PSD), the Science and Technology Policy and Plans Office, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) — issued their addenda.

These addenda lay out the initiatives and measures the respective agencies will undertake to fulfil the priorities for the new term, which Madam Halimah set out at the opening of the 14th Parliament on Monday.

Next Monday, Parliament will sit to debate the President's Address in a Motion of Thanks.

Here is a look at some of the top priorities for MCCY and MOF, as well as the four PMO agencies.

MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

In Mdm Halimah’s speech, she noted the need to embrace new ideas, and that the country’s diversity of views, ideas and aspirations can be a “source of strength” in a changing world. To this end, the MCCY will prioritise partnering Singaporeans to build a resilient and caring society.

It will do so by:

  • Convening “Emerging Stronger Conversations” as a platform for Singaporeans to “reflect and reimagine the future together”, by looking back at their crisis experience and translating these reflections and ideas into action

  • Growing volunteerism efforts through the SG Cares movement

  • Partnering stakeholders in the arts, heritage and sports communities

MCCY also wants to create opportunities for the youth to thrive. In the new term, it will set up a new “digital corps”, comprising up to 1,000 trained youth who will be deployed to assist community and social sector organisations to digitalise their operations.

The ministry will also partner youth sector organisations to train young people in leadership and financial planning, as well as to create mental well-being resources online.

Pledging to work hand-in-hand with all Singaporeans, Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said: “Social cohesion, unity and a strong sense of civic responsibility have always been the cornerstones of Singapore society. These values are now more critical than ever, as we fight as one nation to overcome Covid-19.”

MINISTRY OF FINANCE

MOF will work towards maintaining a more innovative and efficient Government, as well as to build a fair and progressive fiscal system that fosters continued social mobility while uplifting the vulnerable.

To strengthen Singapore’s social compact, MOF will also deploy resources to maintain social mobility and opportunities for all, such as by doubling annual spending on affordable preschool education within the next few years from 2018 levels.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said that the major fiscal packages — totalling S$100 billion — launched to fight the economic effects of the pandemic had given substantial support to people, but added that it “will not be sustainable to continue this level of support indefinitely”.

Instead, MOF will help businesses and workers adapt and grow in an economy “profoundly” reshaped by Covid-19.

“To combat this crisis, we have drawn on our reserves, equivalent to over 20 years of past budget surpluses. We have used a generation’s worth of savings to combat a crisis of a generation.

“We must therefore ensure that our fiscal balance is put back on a stable path when the economy recovers,” Mr Heng said, describing the fiscal environment ahead as a challenging one.

MOF pledged to:

  • Accelerate the country’s innovation and digitalisation push across firms in all 23 Industry Transformation Maps, which are blueprints to prepare a range of industries for the future economy

  • Strengthen the Government’s revenue position to fund growing needs, particularly in healthcare and social spending, in a way that fosters collective responsibility, such as through the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike from 7 to 9 per cent by 2025

  • Develop a framework for responsible and sustainable use of borrowing to finance major long-term infrastructure investments

  • Carefully monitor the timing of raising GST or borrowing to finance infrastructure. The GST hike will not take effect in 2021, as announced in the Budget

STRATEGY GROUP

The PMO's Strategy Group, which is in charge of driving whole-of-government strategic planning, will prioritise cross-ministry efforts to review Singapore's longer-term policy agenda, including coordinating economic and social policies to allow Singaporeans better access to jobs and opportunities after the pandemic is over.

It will:

  • Partner employers and the community to continue supporting marriage and parenthood aspirations, to cushion the impact on young couples caused by Covid-19

  • Take a calibrated approach to immigration and balance Singapore’s worker flows. This ensures that policies allow Singaporeans to benefit from better jobs and opportunities while welcoming foreigners who can contribute to the country and want to make it their home

  • Continue advancing the country’s climate change response, as well as to generate new “green growth areas” for Singapore, which will in turn create new jobs for residents

PUBLIC SERVICE DIVISION

The Public Service Division (PSD) pledges to transform the way the public service works without changing its integrity, service and excellence. This is through re-organising public servants into more “cross-agency teams” to enable them to solve problems better, beyond agency boundaries.

PSD laid out several priorities for the new government term, including:

  • Recruiting public servants from diverse backgrounds and with varied skill sets, so that they can provide different perspectives to problems and solutions

  • Investing more in skills upgrading to enable public servants to stay employable over a longer career

  • Rotating officers to different jobs so that they gain a wider perspective and more opportunities to work with the private sector and the community

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY AND PLANS OFFICE

Set up in late 2019, the new Science and Technology Policy and Plans Office under the PMO will coordinate the planning of science and technology capabilities, and overcome manpower and financial constraints in the public service through advancements in technology.

It pledges to:

  • Build stronger public sector science and technology capabilities

  • Aggregate science and technological demands across the whole Government for greater efficiency

SMART NATION AND DIGITAL GOVERNMENT GROUP

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) under the PMO will accelerate the digitisation in Government and advance towards its smart nation goals, with better digital services for the public, such as how the Government Technology Agency or GovTech was able to rapidly engineer the TraceTogether and SafeEntry contact-tracing systems to help deal with Covid-19.

To take this further, the SNDGG pledges to:

  • Make digital services accessible to all citizens, particularly seniors and the less digitally literate

  • Build digital end-to-end options for all government services by 2023, with high citizen and business satisfaction rates for these services

  • Strengthen data security in the Government

  • Build up national digital infrastructure, platforms and standards, such as the National Digital Identity platform that is an extension of the SingPass authentication system for citizens to transact online. 

Related topics

Halimah Yacob PMO MOF Heng Swee Keat Covid-19 coronavirus

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