In her speech at Parliament on Apr. 10, President Halimah Yacob highlighted that the trust between Singapore’s political leadership and people, and between Singaporeans themselves, is a “key strength” that must be continuously nurtured and cherished.
On Friday (Apr. 14), some ministries released their addenda which laid out key initiatives aimed at helping to strengthen this mutual trust, including partnering with Singaporeans to build a more united and resilient society, enabling a high-performing, trusted public service, and leveraging technology to build a people-centric and future-ready government.
Here is a summary of the key initiatives each ministry is working on:
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
The Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth said it would continue to develop Singapore’s arts, heritage, and sports facilities and programmes as common spaces for people to come together and build shared memories.
The ministry said Singaporeans will enjoy greater access to world-class sports facilities, as well as marquee sports, lifestyle, and entertainment events, with the government taking over ownership of the Sports Hub and rejuvenating the Kallang Alive precinct.
On the social front, the ministry said it would continue to facilitate opportunities for Singaporeans to donate or volunteer for causes they are passionate about through platforms such as Youth Corps Singapore, Team Nila, and SG Cares volunteer centres across 24 towns.
The People’s Association will increase opportunities for citizens to be involved in community service and improvement projects in their local neighbourhoods, said the ministry.
For businesses, it will also extend and enhance the Corporate Volunteer Scheme to encourage them to play a role in strengthening Singapore’s social fabric.
The scheme will allow businesses to continue enjoying tax deductions when their employees volunteer at an Institution of a Public Character.
The ministry will also facilitate mutual support across ethnic communities to ensure the fruits of growth and progress are shared by all, together with community partners, such as its self-help groups.
For children aged four to 12, it will top up an additional S$100 of ActiveSG credits so that they can interact and bond outside of school, among other initiatives to develop cross-cultural understanding and friendships among children.
Finally, the ministry also said it would offer opportunities for Singaporeans to co-develop policies and solutions on salient national-level issues through platforms such as Citizen’s Panels and Alliances for Action, together with the rest of the government.
New platforms will also be created to give youths opportunities to shape Singapore.
Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Finance said that Singapore’s fiscal space is now tighter than before, with annual government spending expected to increase to around 19 to 20 per cent of GDP in the Financial Years 2026 to 2030.
It could possibly exceed 20 per cent of the country’s GDP by Financial Year 2030, said the ministry.
Beyond the ministry’s projections, the government may need to spend more to enhance Singapore’s economic competitiveness, social inclusion and mobility, or national resilience.
As such, it will continue to ensure sound and stable public finances for Singapore through a sustainable mix of taxes on income, consumption, and assets while upholding a fiscal system that is fair and progressive.
The ministry also said it would work closely with government agencies to ensure the effectiveness of government spending.
It will press on with digital transformation efforts, including integrating budgeting, procurement, and payment systems for better Whole-of-Government financial management.
The ministry also said it will make sure that public sector manpower will not take up an out-sized share of the resident labour force at the expense of the private sector.
At the same time, it will support public sector manpower capability development, such as by raising competencies in finance, procurement, grants governance, and deploying shared services.
Ministry of Law
The Ministry of Law said it would continue upholding the Rule of Law and enhancing access to justice.
More Singaporeans and Permanent Residents now have access to criminal defence aid after the establishment of the Public Defender’s Office and the expansion of coverage for criminal defence aid to the bottom 35 per cent of households, covering most offences.
In the area of family justice, the ministry is working with key partners, such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development, to make family legal proceedings simpler and more efficient while reducing acrimony in the proceedings.
The law ministry will also enhance Singapore as a legal services and Intellectual Property (IP) hub, which will create value for the economy and provide good jobs for Singaporeans.
Bearing in mind Singapore’s limited land and space, it will continue to harness innovative ideas, as well as business models, to maximise the potential and unlock the value of state properties to meet Singapore’s social and economic objectives.
Prime Minister’s Office (Public Service Division)
The Public Service Division (PSD) said it is redesigning public services so that they centre around citizens instead of only around agencies, and reviewing regulatory processes to make it easier for businesses.
It is also equipping public officers and leaders with deeper and more diverse skills through training and development opportunities.
At the same time, the Public Service is reorganising itself to leverage science and technology advancements to overcome manpower, fiscal, land, and carbon constraints.
PSD said it would continue to invest in developing its pipeline of leaders, ensure that there is a diversity of skills and experience, and transform its leadership development approaches to better prepare in-service leaders to lead their teams as well as organisations.
Prime Minister’s Office (SNDGG)
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said it would leverage technology to transform the lived experience of citizens and facilitate the business activity, growth, and innovation of Singapore-based enterprises.
It will refresh the Digital Government Blueprint at the end of 2023 and stride towards more discoverable, personalised, and seamless government services, such as by promoting the use of common digital platforms across the government.
Also in end-2023, SNDGG will roll out a new product, CheckWho, which will help the public verify the legitimacy of calls from public officers.
To ensure everyone will be able to participate in society digitally, SNDGG will support efforts by the Ministry of Communications and Information to promote digital skills and literacy.
Nevertheless, while reaping the economic benefits and productivity gains brought forward by the digital age, it will still ensure that citizen services offered by public agencies remain accessible for less digitally adept Singaporeans, saying that it aspires to build a society that is “Digital First but not Digital-Only”.
Prime Minister’s Office (Strategy Group)
The Strategy Group said it would continue to strengthen Whole-of-Government planning and execution to tackle increasingly complex and cross-cutting challenges, such as the fragmented global order amid rising geopolitical tensions.
In response to this rapidly changing environment, it will also review and refresh Singapore’s medium to long-term national priorities.
For example, the Strategy Group will update Singapore’s population strategies, including intensifying efforts to harness longevity as a strength and carefully manage foreign worker and immigration flows, in view of the declining total fertility rate and an ageing population.
It also promised to do more to support marriage and parenthood aspirations.
In the battle against climate change, the Strategy Group said it would diversify Singapore’s energy mix with greener alternatives, such as hydrogen and renewable energy from the region, and work with other stakeholders to research, develop, and deploy low-carbon climate technologies.
It is also working with government agencies to prepare Singapore for the effects of global warming, including rising sea levels and temperatures, and extreme weather.
Top images via Bing Hui Yau on Unsplash