Parliament: DPM Heng Swee Keat pledges to revive Singapore's status as an air hub and its global connectivity

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung will deliver a ministerial statement on reviving Singapore's air hub in Parliament on Oct 6, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Disruptions from Covid-19 may have thrown a spanner in the works for Singapore to be a well-connected air hub, but the Government is doubling down on efforts to restore the country's connectivity.

Pledging to revive Singapore's status as an air hub when global travel resumes, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat also said in Parliament on Monday (Oct 5) that the Government will work on building up the country to be a Global-Asia confluence of technology, innovation and enterprise.

"We must re-establish our position by reopening our borders gradually, positioning Singapore as a safe destination, levelling up capabilities, and refreshing our infrastructure," he said in a ministerial statement on the country's progress in combating Covid-19.

Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and the Finance Minister, added that Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung will deliver a ministerial statement on reviving Singapore's air hub in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Deputy Prime Minister further said the Government will hasten moves to strengthen Singapore's maritime position by improving transshipment capabilities, inking trade facilitation agreements, and anchoring key shipping routes through the country.

More will be done in terms of regional maritime cooperation as well, and he cited the Iskandar Malaysia, Batam, Bintan and Karimun regions for the potential they hold.

He also said Singapore will strengthen significantly its trade and logistics ecosystem and deepen capabilities in its port and airport.

SEONGGONG'S SUCCESS WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

Moves to bolster the country's digital capabilities are being accelerated, said Mr Heng, noting that they will be a "game changer" for Singapore's connectivity with its global partners.

He pointed out that Singapore has concluded Digital Economy Agreements with Australia, Chile and New Zealand, and is having talks with South Korea.

At the same time, companies in Singapore are receiving help to exploit technology and have embarked on more than 27,000 projects to improve their productivity and build new capabilities through the Government's Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant schemes, he said.

One example he cited is the Seonggong restaurant group, which manages brands like Seorae Korean BBQ.

He met its founder on Friday and said the group used digital technology to successfully revamp it operations, so much so that its deliveries from online orders have offset the losses from its dine-in business.

"The experience of businesses shows that digitalisation is a strategic capability to unlock growth, evolve their models to harness digital possibilities, and to integrate processes such as logistics, payment, and marketing," said Mr Heng.

Work on transforming companies and industries through technology will continue for all businesses here, and a key Government priority now is to bring digital transformation to enterprises in the heartlands.

He said Senior Minister of State for Communication and National Development Sim Ann and Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling will announce further plans for heartland enterprises in the coming days.

The Government will also unveil a new five-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise plan in December to enhance research to support areas of national priority, he added.

These areas include early childhood development, lifelong learning, and keeping seniors healthy.

The plan will also expand on efforts Singapore is undertaking to transform its manufacturing, aviation and maritime industries, and deepen its capabilities as a Smart Nation and sustainable society.

"By enhancing our connectivity and making innovation pervasive, we can better meet the challenges of a post-Covid world, and create good jobs and a brighter future for all Singaporeans," said Mr Heng.

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