COVID-19: Singapore to spend S$3.5 billion on information and communications technology to support businesses

COVID-19: Singapore to spend S$3.5 billion on information and communications technology to support businesses

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Singapore
People in protective face masks are seen at a mall, as mall capacity is regulated in a series of social distancing measures to curb the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Singapore March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

SINGAPORE: Singapore will spend an estimated S$3.5 billion on the procurement of information and communications technology (ICT) this financial year to boost the economy and support businesses recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak.

This estimated expenditure is 30 per cent more compared to the last financial year’s projected spend of S$2.7 billion, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said in a media release on Monday (Jun 8).

“The increased spending will help the Government accelerate digitalisation as technology becomes increasingly vital in enabling citizens and workers to resume normal activities, and businesses to reopen safely after the COVID-19 circuit breaker," said GovTech.

READ: Expanded programme to place and train 3,000 Singaporeans in tech jobs over next two to three years

The projected ICT expenditure will focus on five key areas: Development of new technology tools to respond to COVID-19, development of citizen- and business-centric digital services, development of ICT systems on cloud, modernisation of government ICT infrastructure, as well as the use of data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and sensors within the public sector.

GovTech said the projected FY2020 procurement spending will include ICT projects that have been brought forward by agencies because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

These projects include the development of tech solutions to respond to COVID-19 and Sport Singapore’s ActiveSG Circle – launched in April this year – which aims to elevate the sporting industry in Singapore via technology

MORE SUPPORT FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be eligible to participate in 80 per cent of these potential procurement opportunities. In the previous financial year, SMEs were awarded nearly 70 per cent of the total ICT contracts.

GovTech said it has continued to work with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to streamline and introduce new procurement methods to improve their access to Government ICT procurement opportunities.

These include incorporating more bulk tenders and dynamic contracting to shorten the ICT procurement process.

READ: 1,000 digital ambassadors to be recruited to help stallholders, seniors go online

For this financial year, GovTech said the Government will put up bulk tenders for services such as user experience design, agile development, application development, data science and AI.

“With a projected value of S$1.2 billion, these bulk tenders will broaden the opportunities for SMEs to participate in and win ICT contracts with government agencies,” the agency said.

One of the SMEs to benefit from the bulk tender, SimplifyNext, was awarded a robotics process automation (RPA) bulk tender for the whole of Government.

SimplifyNext managing director Mayank Gupta said that unlike larger companies, SMEs have limited resources and are used to spending more time trying to win contracts than to deliver them.

“This is where the Government’s initiative of pooling demand for new services into bulk tenders has really helped us. We went through an extensive and rigorous evaluation process to secure the RPA bulk tender, and it has opened many doors for us to do business with Government agencies,” said Mr Gupta. 

ACTIVE RECRUITMENT AS PART OF SGUNITED JOBS INITIATIVE

To strengthen the Government’s internal engineering capabilities and accelerate the pace of digitalisation, GovTech said it is actively recruiting fresh graduates and experienced technology professionals as part of the SGUnited Jobs initiative.

There are more than 400 vacancies in roles such as software engineers, digital business analysts, cybersecurity specialists, data scientists, AI engineers and infrastructure specialists.

Applicants can register their interest online during GovTech’s five-week virtual recruitment drive from May 21 to Jun 21. 

READ: COVID-19: Singapore’s financial position will be weaker in coming years, but Govt will manage the situation, says DPM Heng

GovTech chief executive Kok Ping Soon said the COVID-19 outbreak has illustrated the importance of digitalisation, as well as the need to accelerate it within and beyond the public sector.

“We hope that businesses, especially the SMEs, will benefit from the larger pool and higher value of ICT procurement opportunities, work with us to build a Smart Nation and Digital Government, and emerge stronger from this crisis together.”

The Government’s ICT procurement and digitalisation roadmap is usually announced at the annual Smart Nation and Digital Government Industry Briefing.

This year, in light of the COVID-19 measures, GovTech will roll out an online multimedia package. The package, which will be rolled out from Wednesday, will contain more details on the Government’s key digitalisation focuses and areas of projected spending.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the push for digitalisation within the public and private sectors. For FY2020, the Government will continue to invest heavily in technology to carry forward the impetus for digitalisation at a whole-of-nation level,” the agency said.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: CNA/zl(hs)

Bookmark