SINGAPORE: Public officers will be able to make small-value purchases directly from e-commerce sites by the end of this year, announced Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah during the Ministry of Finance's (MOF) Committee of Supply debate on Friday (Feb 28).
“MOF and GovTech (Government Technology Agency) will enable public officers to make small-value purchases from e-commerce sites seamlessly, without having to claim reimbursement," she said in Parliament, adding that the new move will enhance speed and convenience.
A small-value purchase refers to goods or services with estimated value of up to S$6,000, according to the Government’s online purchasing portal GeBIZ.
At the moment, authorities can make these purchases by buying directly "off the shelf" or from known suppliers. Public officers can also make small-value purchases from e-commerce sites but more steps are involved.
“For example, officers may need to pay out-of-pocket first before seeking reimbursement from their agencies, and there are also follow-up processing of these claims by the agencies," said an MOF spokesperson in response to queries.
“With this new initiative, public officers’ purchases from e-commerce sites can be billed directly to their agencies, making the process much more seamless and efficient for both the officer and their agencies," added the response.
Ms Indranee said the public service spends more than S$60 million annually on small-value items, such as pantry supplies, stationery and small electrical appliances.
"A fully automated e-commerce model will lighten the processing workload on our corporate staff. Audit controls will be automated and monitoring done in the background," she said.
"This will save our public officers more than 100,000 man-days a year, freeing up their time to focus on delivering better services to the public."
Authorities are partnering vendors in this digitalisation journey, particularly the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Ms Indranee said: “By bringing their businesses online, SMEs can digitalise their processes from order to invoice to payment, and improve productivity."
It also opens up new opportunities for SMEs to access an additional channel to supply government agencies and other buyers and expand their reach beyond Singapore’s shores, she added.