MPA named most business-friendly government agency for fifth straight year

SINGAPORE - The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has been named the most business-friendly government agency here for the fifth year running.

MPA came out tops among 29 regulatory agencies in a survey of more than 5,000 businesses, who were asked how they felt each agency performed in areas such as customer responsiveness, transparency and compliance cost.

The survey was conducted by the Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP), a public-private entity which aims to help Singapore's regulatory regime become more business-friendly.

"Knowing the needs of our customers is key," said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan. "During this challenging period for the industry, responsiveness is key. MPA is therefore committed to working closely with our customers to weather the current downturn. We are also committed to work with industry to position ourselves for future growth."

MPA and other agencies that did well in the survey were recognised at an award ceremony organised by the PEP and the Singapore Business Federation on Thursday held at the Suntec Singapore Convention Centre.

Three agencies were also lauded for seeing the biggest improvements in their pro-business scores: the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

The SCDF received four awards - the most among the public sector agencies.

The awards recognised SCDF's efforts in areas such as streamlining the petroleum and flammable materials licence process, and allowing collective approval for the Temporary Change of Use Permit for shopping malls.

Awards were also given out to companies and individuals for making suggestions to government agencies on how to improve regulations.

For instance, Guardian Health & Beauty received an award for suggesting that some over-the-counter medicines and products could be sold through vending machines.

These items, which can be bought over the counter without a doctor's prescription or the supervision of a pharmacist, include paracetamol, antacids and charcoal tablets.

The Health Sciences Authority reviewed this suggestion and put in place safeguards to implement it. The relevant regulations took effect from Nov 1.

Technology, innovation and new operating models are disrupting businesses and opening up new opportunities, said Parliamentary Secretary (Education, and Trade and Industry) Low Yen Ling, who gave out the awards at the event.

"This means Singapore's regulatory regime has to stay forward-looking. We will facilitate the growth of businesses, foster innovations and encourage enterprises to adopt new business models and leverage technology," she added.