Public service to involve whole-of-nation effort

Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said the Public Service Division will continue to invest in and develop engineers, to develop Singapore's city infrastructure.
Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said the Public Service Division will continue to invest in and develop engineers, to develop Singapore's city infrastructure.PHOTO: AFP

Agencies to reach out to citizens, businesses and other stakeholders to improve services, says Chan Chun Sing

Singapore's public service agencies will go beyond a "whole-of-government" approach to a "whole-of-nation" effort by partnering businesses, citizens and other stakeholders to develop better solutions for all.

Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said this in the Public Service Division's (PSD) addendum to the President's Address released yesterday.

He said the PSD, a unit of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), will continue to reach out to others, whether overseas or in the private sector, to hear their views, learn from their successes and failures, and improve itself.

Explaining what the new "whole-of-nation" approach could entail, political observer Lam Peng Er said: "It will be a more participatory process."

"A whole-of-government app-roach is one that would be state-driven, while a whole-of-nation approach... will be more of a partnership between the government and different segments of society."

Mr Chan, who is also the Trade and Industry Minister, also said the PSD will continue to invest in and train engineers to develop Singapore's city infrastructure.

It will also boost its expertise in infocomm technology to build a Smart Nation and digital government.

"We are training public officers in data analytics and digital literacy so as to better understand citizens' needs and improve public services," he said.

Four other ministries and agencies released their addenda yesterday - the Finance and Law ministries, as well as the Strategy Group and Smart Nation and Digital Government Group within PMO. The theme for their addenda was "A Government that Works with Our People to Create a Better Future".

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean oversees the Strategy Group, which coordinates and organises the public service to implement the Government's strategic projects.

Mr Teo said the group will focus on three broad strategies to maintain a population profile that improves the lives of each generation.

First, it will implement policies to enable all Singaporeans to age with purpose and dignity.

Second, it will make Singapore a great place for families, where marriage and parenthood are achievable, enjoyable and celebrated.

Third, it will maintain a careful balance in the foreign worker and immigrant flows.

In his ministry's addendum, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat outlined the Government's plans to maintain a sound and sustainable fiscal system and a balanced Budget over the medium term.

He noted Singapore's rising expenditures in healthcare, infrastructure and security, and pointed to changes around the globe, such as corporate tax reductions in other countries that could hurt Singapore's competitiveness. This is why the Government decided to raise the goods and services tax, he said.

But he added: "As we build up our revenues, we will ensure that taxes remain competitive to encourage private enterprise and individual initiative. We will continue to keep our overall tax and transfer system equitable, fair and progressive."

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the Law Ministry (MinLaw) will review Singapore's laws to ensure that they remain progressive, modern and relevant to society's evolving needs.

For instance, it is reviewing the Penal Code together with the Ministry of Home Affairs to cover new offences, enhance protection for vulnerable victims and assess the adequacy of existing punishments for sexual offences.

It is also reviewing the legal cost framework, enhancing judicial control in civil proceedings and studying measures to make it easier and more effective for plaintiffs to enforce judgments given in their favour.

Mr Shanmugam said MinLaw will continue to drive Singapore's development as an international legal services hub and help legal professionals acquire expertise in new growth areas such as intellectual property.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2018, with the headline 'Public service to involve whole-of-nation effort'. Print Edition | Subscribe