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Good governance the key to Singapore’s success, Government says

The Government on Friday (May 23) pledged to uphold good governance – a key pillar of the Republic’s success, it said.

SINGAPORE: The Government on Friday (May 23) pledged to uphold good governance – a key pillar of the Republic’s success, it said.

In an addenda statement to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address in Parliament last Friday, the Government promised to continue “building on our strong foundations of responsible and sustainable financial management, a fair and consistent system of rules and laws, and a first-class public service”.

As social spending increases, making every dollar count will be more important than ever, the Government said. To supplement the annual Budget, the Ministry of Finance will continue to draw on the Net Investment Returns Contribution, while looking to develop other revenue streams in anticipation of higher spending in the longer-term.

Rules and laws will have to evolve in response to the changing environment, the statement said. For example, the Ministry of Law is considering consolidating Singapore’s insolvency laws for both personal bankruptcy and corporate insolvency under an omnibus legislation.

The ministry will also undertake a review of the interest rates and fees charged by licensed moneylenders. A central credit bureau will be established, to enable “tighter controls” over the total amount of unsecured credit an individual can borrow from moneylenders.

To protect the financial well-being of the public, laws governing financial services will be updated, the Government said. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will implement several measures, such as requiring foreign banks important to the domestic market to incorporate their retail banking businesses locally to give better protection to depositors. Proposals to strengthen the securities market are also under consideration, MAS said.

There are also plans to introduce a web aggregator to allow consumers to compare life insurance products, and give Singaporeans the option to purchase basic insurance products directly from insurers without advice and at a lower cost.

The Ministry of Communications and Information is looking into expanding co-regulation in more areas such as film and arts entertainment. A public consultation is already underway to allow arts groups to classify their own performances.

The ministry is also moving to improve public communication and engagement. For example, it has initiated through REACH an open concept booth, known as the “Listening Point”, in public areas to provide information and obtain public feedback on national issues.

At the heart of all these plans is the need to "build a public service that is better at serving the public", the addenda stated. "We will nurture in public officers a greater appreciation for the diverse needs of Singaporeans, and preserve the status as a first-class institution."

The Public Service Division will be tasked to improve coordination across the whole of the Government to that citizens have "a smoother experience interacting with Government agencies". A Chief Human Resource Officer will be appointed to lead efforts to upgrade the public service's HR capabilities, training and leadership development.

“Good governance is crucial in keeping Singapore a conducive place to live, work and play,” the statement said. “It will enable us to embark on the next stage of nation-building with confidence, and to build a better Singapore for the next generation.”

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