Parliament Briefs: 7 in 10 taxis have airbags, which are not mandatory

7 in 10 taxis have airbags, which are not mandatory

About 70 per cent of taxis today are equipped with airbags, compared to 23 per cent five years ago, said Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng in Parliament yesterday.

While airbags are not mandatory for taxis, taxi companies have taken the initiative to buy cabs with airbags when expanding or renewing their fleets, he added.

Mr Ng was responding to Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who asked if all taxis are equipped with airbags and whether the Transport Ministry intends to make it compulsory.

Mr Ng said airbags are not a mandatory feature as they are considered a supporting safety feature to supplement seat belts.

Coupons to be phased out for electronic parking

As of December last year, 1,537 of 2,104 public carparks - or 73 per cent - managed by the Housing Board and the Urban Redevelopment Agency use the electronic parking system (EPS).

In Parliament yesterday, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said his ministry's goal is to phase out coupon parking eventually.

But some carparks, like those on the kerbside, with site constraints or affected by impending redevelopment, are not suitable for the EPS, he noted.

"For these carparks, HDB and URA are exploring the use of new carpark technology to bring greater convenience to motorists," he said.

He was responding to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, who had asked if the ministry would allow motorists to use old parking coupons - which were mostly sold in booklets of 50 cents and $1 - at pro-rated rates. Mr Lee said there was no need to do so: "We hope technology will replace all of that."

Separately, Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan) suggested having a longer grace period of 15 minutes in carparks near childcare facilities and schools during peak hours. But Mr Lee said the current 10-minute grace period is generally sufficient for motorists to pick up or drop off passengers, or to exit the carpark if all parking spaces are occupied.

"This prevents build-up of congestion in the carpark, allows more motorists to make use of the carpark, and ensures that the interests of residents who drive or have season parking are adequately taken care of," he said.

MOM studying changing trends of freelancing

The Ministry of Manpower wants to know more about the changing trends of freelancing here, and started an annual survey last September to do so.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said although the overall percentage of people whose primary work is freelancing has remained stable, their numbers could be growing in sectors like private-hire car services.

More people might also turn to freelancing to earn extra income.

In June last year, there were about 180,000 primary freelancers. They made up 8 per cent of working residents.

$4.3m spent to spur young entrepreneurs

About $4.3 million has been given to 149 schools through a scheme to encourage more youth to be entrepreneurs.

This amount was given from October 2008, when the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme for Schools began, till last year.

On average, about $184,000 has been disbursed to primary schools annually, $270,000 to secondary schools and junior colleges, and $87,000 to polytechnics and ITE colleges.

More than 40,000 students have taken part in entrepreneurship activities conducted by the schools under the programme, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said.

How civil service assesses scholarship holders

All officers in the civil service who perform well and show potential for leadership are given the opportunity to participate in development programmes and considered for higher positions.

This is regardless of whether they are scholarship holders, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is in charge of the civil service.

Once scholars return from their studies, they are assessed and placed on the same schemes of service as non-scholars. Their salaries are also determined in the same way, said Mr Teo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Parliament Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe