Public sector report card: Government has created new jobs, kept necessities affordable

People at Robinson Road in the Central Business District.
People at Robinson Road in the Central Business District. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As Singapore faces a subdued global economy, the Government has managed to create new jobs, keep unemployment low, while making sure necessities such as housing and healthcare remain affordable.

These are among some of the Government's key achievements in the past two years, according to a new report released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Friday (Dec 9).

The Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review is issued every two years.

The MOF said in a statement that a key focus of the Government in the last two years has been to "provide opportunities for all by renewing the economy, transforming industries and enhancing lifelong employability".

The report singled out the work of statutory board Spring Singapore in helping to boost the capabilities of companies here - last year (2015), Spring supported 22,000 projects by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to innovate and improve productivity, double the number a year earlier.


These efforts are expected to create about 19,000 new jobs and $6.9 billion of added-value over the next three years.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has remained stable at 3 per cent or lower in the last five years.

Spring's deputy chief executive Ted Tan said innovation and productivity will be key for Singapore's future economic growth and competitiveness.

"Spring will continue to work with partners to help our local enterprises grow whilst ensuring that smaller SMEs remain relevant. This will put us in a good position to seize new opportunities that arise," he said.

Housing, healthcare more affordable


There are also signs that housing has become more affordable for first-time home buyers due to policy changes.

The report noted that the debt-servicing ratio of new four-room HDB flats in non-mature estates dropped from 25 per cent in 2014 to 22 per cent in 2015.

Home ownership has also remained high, at about 92 per cent over the past four years.

Last year, the Government tweaked several housing policies.

The household income ceilings to buy resale flats using the CPF Housing Grant and new HDB flats, for instance, were raised - allowing more people to qualify for grants.

The Special CPF Housing Grant was also enhanced to help lower- and middle-income households afford their first home. It also introduced the Proximity Housing Grant, to help parents or their married children buy resale HDB flats to live closer to one another.

Healthcare for the elderly has also remained affordable with the introduction of policies such as the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) in 2014.

The report noted that over 90 per cent of pioneers enjoyed PGP subsidies for their visits to subsidised specialist outpatient clinics, polyclinics or Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) clinics, between September 2014 and December 2015.

Government spending on healthcare has increased almost six-fold to $11 billion, compared to a decade ago, said the report.

Room to improve transport reliability

The 66-page report, the fourth since 2010, also acknowledged that there was "room for improvement" in boosting rail reliability.

The number of train delays lasting more than 30 minutes doubled to 14 in 2015 compared to just seven in 2013.

Having said that, the report highlighted that MRT trains are travelling longer distances before encountering delays.

In 2015, trains clocked 133,000 train-km between disruptions, which are defined as delays of more than five minutes. This is a distance that is 40 per cent more than the 93,000 train-km recorded in 2014.

The target for 2016 is 200,000 train-km.

Events such as SG50 and the 2015 SEA Games also helped Singaporeans develop a stronger sense of belonging and identity, said the report

There was also a slight increase of about 3 per cent in the overall crime rate per 100,000 people in 2015 compared to 2014, largely due to the rising number of online commercial crimes.

But the report said the overall law and order situation in Singapore remains under control.

Head of Civil Service Peter Ong said: "The Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review provides a good opportunity for us to look back on our performance over the last two years, as we chart our directions for the future. Over the last two years, we have made some progress to make public service delivery better and more convenient for our citizens."

"In the next chapter of our Singapore story, we will work towards building a future-ready Public Service that will partner each and every Singaporean to build a better home for all."