Debate in 2 minutes

Yesterday's packed Parliament session saw six Bills and changes to House procedures approved.

During question time, rising costs were of concern to MPs, who sought more information about inflation and the price of infant milk powder.

How to make milk powder affordable

Import requirements for infant milk powder will be reviewed to make more options available in stores.

This is one of several measures to ensure infant milk formula is affordable, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said.

More infant milk powder options will also be available in hospitals, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority will strengthen restrictions on labelling and advertising.

Headline inflation rate to head north

The headline inflation rate this year is expected to be between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent, up from 0.5 per cent negative inflation last year, Dr Koh said.

He highlighted rising oil prices, which are poised to drive the costs of electricity and petrol up, as the main driver behind the increase.

The hike in water prices and carpark charges will have a lesser impact, as they contribute to a small and temporary rise in inflation, he added.

Changes made to Standing Orders

Parliament yesterday accepted changes to its Standing Orders, the rules that govern parliamentary proceedings and conduct.

These amendments, said Leader of the House Grace Fu, would refine a system that has worked well for Parliament.

Among other things, the House will have more time to consider Bills and amendments. New procedures are also in place to allow Parliament to overrule the President's veto power if he goes against the advice of the majority of the Council of Presidential Advisers.

Tougher rules for entertainment spots

Errant public entertainment outlets will be dealt with more harshly, after changes to the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act were passed.

The maximum penalty for providing public entertainment without a valid licence, or while the licence is suspended, will double to $20,000 to deter errant operators from circumventing regulations.

Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said a "lighter-touch" approach will be taken for the majority of licensees who are law-abiding. They will be granted licences for longer periods.

Bill passed to bring uni under MOE

A Bill to bring the private university formerly known as SIM University under the ambit of the Ministry of Education was passed yesterday.

Now known as the Singapore University of Social Sciences, it will champion lifelong learning and offer programmes with a strong social emphasis.

This will give Singaporeans greater diversity of choice in higher education, said Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Debate in 2 minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe