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500+ Inputs For Cut Waste Panel

19 Sep 2003

The Cut Waste Panel has received more than 500 suggestions from the public since Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lee Hsien Loong announced the formation of the Panel in Parliament on 1 September 2003. The statistics are as follows:

Total number of suggestions received = 520
Number of suggestions being studied = 437
Total number of replies from the agencies = 83
Number of suggestions accepted = 20
Number of clarifications = 49
Number of suggestions under review by the Panel = 14

The following are some examples of suggestions that have been received (please see Annex for the details):

a) Use of time during in-camp training;
b) Incentives for e-filing tax returns; and
c) Performance-based pay for civil servants.

2. The Terms of Reference of the Panel are to consider suggestions from the public on cutting waste or frills in the public sector, assess the responses of public sector agencies for receptiveness and appropriateness, and work with public sector agencies on strengthening the culture of Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness.

3. At its first meeting this morning, the Cut Waste Panel was briefed on the Economy Drive in the Public Service, and approved how ideas from the public on cutting waste should be processed.

4. The identity of a suggestor will be known only to the Secretariat to the Panel, who will withhold it from both the public sector agencies and the Panel members. When a suggestion is received, the Secretariat to the Panel will send it to the Deputy Secretary of the ministry, or CEO of the statutory board, or head of the government department for evaluation, without identifying the suggestor. They must respond within two weeks. If they fail to do so, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry will be asked to be personally involved. The Secretariat may contact the suggestor for more details on the suggestion, if need be.

5. If the agency agrees with the suggestion, it will be implemented. If the agency disagrees, the Panel will look at the arguments and endorse or challenge the decisions of the responding agency. The Panel will send its comments to the agencies if not satisfied, and may ask to meet the heads of the public sector agencies to discuss the responses of their agencies and further ways to reduce waste in the public sector.

6. Suggestions and responses will be published on the Cut Waste Panel website:

7. "In some cases, waste can be quite obvious. In many instances, however, it is not clear-cut. What is excessive quality to one person, may be just satisfactory to another. What are frills to one may be necessary to another. If everything is simply cut down to the bare bones, then a lowering of service standards, and even an overall lowering of quality of life as provided through public services, would be the result. This is not the outcome we seek," says Mr Lim Siong Guan, Head of Civil Service, who chairs the Panel.

8. The Panel is to help strike a good balance between how much the Public Sector should do and how much should be spent. It can ask that costs be adjusted, rules removed, programmes stopped, and fees and charges reviewed, if it finds them unnecessary. It will help the government get good value for money in the delivery of services which meet the needs of the public at an acceptable standard.

9. The Cut Waste exercise is the public interface of the Economy Drive in the Public Service. Launched in May 2003, the Economy Drive is a campaign to reinforce continued efforts by the Public Sector to be lean, efficient and effective. As part of the overall policy of seeking value-for-money and prudence at all levels, officers are challenged to continuously strive to do more with existing resources. The Economy Drive reflects the government's resolve to tighten its belt in these challenging times. Together, the Cut Waste Panel and the Economy Drive are targeted at delivering the maximum good for the public out of the public dollars entrusted to the public sector. Examples of projects that have been implemented include:

(a) The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has revised the tender specifications for three of its term maintenance contracts from being prescriptive-based to being performance-based. This revision is one of the main reasons for the cost savings in its maintenance contracts which amount to about $3.5m per year for the next three years; and

(b) The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has reviewed the availability and requirement levels of central Civil Service IT systems, without compromising on effectiveness. This has yielded significant savings. For instance, MOF recently reviewed and adjusted the system standards for the Public Service Infrastructure for e-Government services (PSi), while maintaining reasonable service availability levels to users. This yielded operational savings of $4m savings per year.

10. The Cut Waste Panel has been receiving a steady stream of ideas from the public via its website at It urges the public to send in any ideas they have on where the government can cut waste, remove frills and make savings in the delivery of public services. Alternatively, the suggestions can be sent to:

Cut Waste Panel Secretariat
Ministry of Finance
100 High Street, #03-03
The Treasury
Singapore 179434
Fax: (65) 6332 7435

11. The Cut Waste Panel consists mostly of individuals from the people and private sectors. The members of the Panel are:

1) Mr Lim Siong Guan (Chairman, Cut Waste Panel)
Head of Civil Service

2) Mr Ang Mong Seng
Member of Parliament, Hong Kah GRC

3) Mr Chen Hwai Liang
Journalist, Lianhe Zaobao

4) Ms Chua Mui Hoong
Journalist, The Straits Times

5) Mr Gautam Banerjee
Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore

6) Ms Devi Haridas
Secretary, Telok Blangah-Dover CCMC & Vice-Chairperson, Telok Blangah-Dover Road RC

7) Mr Ahmad Magad
Member of Parliament, Pasir Ris GRC

8) Mr Peter Ong
Permanent Secretary (Transport) and Chairman of Economy Drive Committee

9) Mr Seah Seng Choon
Executive Director, CASE

10) Mr Eddie Teo
Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister's Office)