Rise in scams, obesity flagged among areas for improvement in report card of public sector's work
SINGAPORE — While Singapore has had good outcomes in most aspects of life such as education, the environment, and the economy over the past two years, there are a few areas of concern that the public sector should work to address, such as an increase in the overall crime rate due to scams, a rise in obesity levels amid a decline in intense physical activity and a low fertility rate.
- The Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review, released once every two years, is a stocktake of the public sector's work
- The latest report noted a few areas of concern such as an increase in crime rate due to a rise in scams and an increase in obesity levels
- But it showed that the country has had good outcomes in most aspects of life such as education, the environment, and the economy
SINGAPORE — While Singapore has had good outcomes in most aspects of life such as education, the environment, and the economy over the past two years, there are a few areas of concern that the public sector should work to address.
These include an increase in the overall crime rate due to scams, a rise in obesity levels amid a decline in intense physical activity and a low fertility rate.
These indicators of progress were fleshed out in the biennial Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review that was published on Tuesday (Dec 6).
It is a report card of sorts, giving a breakdown of how the public sector's work over the past two years have affected the lives of Singaporeans.
Here is a closer look at the report.
AREAS OF PROGRESS
- As at March this year, over 60 per cent of children were enrolled in government-supported preschools, up from 50 per cent in 2017
- Demand has shifted towards full-day preschool programmes, with 152,000 children enrolled in full-day preschools in 2021, a 30 per cent increase from 2017
- Preschool education has become more affordable. In 2020, means-tested subsidies were enhanced across all eligible income tiers and the gross monthly household income ceiling for the subsidies was raised from S$7,500 to S$12,000 and around 92,000 families received such subsidies in 2021. This is up from about 48,000 families in 2019
- Among working adults, more are taking up training to acquire new skills. Since SkillsFuture was launched in 2015, the overall training participation rate among the resident labour force has increased from 35.5 per cent to 49.9 per cent in 2021
ECONOMY AND JOBS
- The economy has rebounded from the pandemic, expanding by 7.6 per cent in 2021
- Growth was mainly driven by manufacturing, finance and insurance, and wholesale trade sectors
- Labour market conditions also improved compared with 2020, with total employment expanding by 1.1 per cent in 2021
- Unemployment declined last year too, backed by strong resident employment growth
- Businesses also continued to be confident in Singapore as a choice location for new investments and the expansion of business activities
- When the investment commitments in 2021 are fully implemented, they are expected to create over 17,000 new jobs in the coming years with a projected contribution of S$16.8 billion in value-add per year
SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- While public transport ridership numbers fell to around 25 per cent of pre-Covid levels during the circuit breaker period from April to June 2020, it has since recovered to about 83 per cent as at September 2022
- As of 2021, more than three in four of all journeys during peak hours were completed by walking, cycling and using public transport and the proportion of such peak-hour journeys completed within 45 minutes has increased from 66 per cent in 2019 to 71 per cent in 2021
- Singaporeans also enjoy easy access to green spaces and nature, with 93 per cent of households living within a 10-minute walk from a park and having access to over 370km of park connectors
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
- A 52.9 per cent rise in scam cases between 2020 and 2021 drove the overall crime rate in Singapore higher
- In 2021, there were almost 24,000 reported scams, with losses of over S$632 million
- To address this issue, the Government has kickstarted several initiatives, such as the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams to encourage public and private partners to work together to combat scams
HEALTH AND FERTILITY
- Singaporeans continue to face challenges to their physical health, with an increase in chronic diseases or conditions such as high-blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in 2021
- While more Singaporeans engaged in leisure exercise in 2020 than in 2017, the participation in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week has been declining, dropping from 80.9 per cent in 2017 to 76.4 per cent in 2020, even prior to the pandemic
- The number of citizen births fell in 2020 and 2021, with about 31,800 and 31,700 births a year respectively, down from 32,800 citizen births in 2019
- This could be due in part to some couples delaying their plans to have a child given the uncertainties brought about by Covid-19
- The report acknowledged that the rollout of the Government's Covid-19 measures were "not always smooth and seamless from the start"
- For example, the Home Recovery Programme, which enabled those with mild or no symptoms to isolate and recover safely at home, faced teething issues in its initial days as daily caseloads rose to 3,500 within a month, causing a large backlog of cases to build up
- Over 500 personnel, consisting of the Singapore Armed Forces and volunteers from the Public Service Division, were mobilised to help scale up the programme
- Several Government entities also set up a temporary call centre to address the surge in calls, and as a result call abandonment fell from 30 per cent to 1 per cent and wait times improved from three minutes to 27 seconds
- The programme has since been "adapted for better scalability and resilience against subsequent Covid-19 surges", the report noted