Serving the nation with competence and commitment
We strive to serve Singapore and Singaporeans as an effective Government marked by integrity, service, and excellence. Overall, Singapore maintained the top ranking for government effectiveness by the World Bank in 2021.
A key pillar of being an effective government is the trust we build and uphold with our people.
Corruption remains firmly under control, with the number of public sector corruption cases remaining low over the years. Internationally, our anti-corruption efforts continue to be well regarded. Singapore was ranked the fourth least corrupt country out of 180 countries by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2021.
Read more: Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau Annual Statistics Report 2021
Singapore’s fiscal system is globally recognised and trusted, being among a select group of countries with a triple-A credit rating. According to Moody’s Issuer In-Depth Report on Singapore’s Credit Outlook in September 2022, we scored highly for institutions and governance, fiscal strength, and insusceptibility to event risk. The Government demonstrated this financial resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly rolling out eight budgets over a period of two years. In total, $72.3 billion has been spent in the fight against COVID-19 for Financial Years 2020 and 2021, with up to $36.9 billion of this drawn from past reserves.
High standard of integrity
During the pandemic, there were initial cases where public officers divulged confidential information to the public. This included the premature release of information on daily COVID-19 case numbers and the leak of a press statement on school closures. The officers involved were promptly taken to task and prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. This reflects the high standard of integrity that we expect of public officers.
Read more: External and Homeland Security | Legal and Diplomacy
The second pillar of being an effective government is the pursuit of excellence and delivering quality outcomes. We continually review our regulations, policies, and programmes to ensure that they remain relevant and do not impose unnecessary costs on individuals. Throughout the pandemic, the Government adopted an agile approach of continual improvement. Our policies and control measures evolved as the situation changed. We swiftly rolled out a series of new digital tools, such as TraceTogether, SafeEntry, and the National Appointment System for vaccination, which were key in our fight against the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center’s Spring 2022 Global Attitudes Survey, 88% of respondents felt that Singapore had done a good job handling the COVID-19 outbreak.
- From the introduction of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act in April 2020, there were 15 amendments between June 2020 to September 2020 to adapt the regulations to the changing public health situation and to safeguard lives and livelihoods. These amendments covered areas such as rental reliefs, temporary reliefs from the inability to fulfil contractual obligations, and alternative arrangements for meetings.
- With the introduction of digital contact tracing tools such as TraceTogether and SafeEntry, the average time to identify and quarantine close contacts was reduced from four days to less than one and a half days.
- The SupplyAlly application facilitated the process of logistical distribution, playing a significant role in managing hundreds of volunteers in the rapid distribution of reusable masks and physical credit vouchers. With the help of SupplyAlly, over 4.2 million reusable masks and over $20 million in physical credit vouchers were distributed.
Roll-out of the Home Recovery Programme
The COVID-19 measures were not always smooth and seamless from the start. For example, the Home Recovery Programme, which enabled those with mild or no symptoms to isolate and recover safely at home, faced teething issues in its initial roll-out as daily caseloads rose to 3,500 within a month and a large backlog of cases built up.
Over 500 personnel, consisting of the Singapore Armed Forces and volunteers from the Public Service Division (PSD), were mobilised to help scale up the programme. The Central Provident Fund Board, GovTech, and PSD also jointly set up a temporary call centre to address the surge in calls. Call abandonment fell from 30% to 1% and wait times improved from three minutes to 27 seconds.
Since then, the programme has been adapted for better scalability and resilience against subsequent COVID-19 surges. As the default mode of care, the programme has facilitated the recovery of more than 270,000 people as at September 2022.
The public sector has stepped up our commitment to environmental sustainability. The sector aims to achieve net zero emissions around 2045, slightly earlier than the national target. In addition, the sector will reduce energy and water usage by 10% by 2030, compared to an average of 2018 to 2020 levels, and cut the amount of waste disposed of by 30% by 2030, compared to 2022 levels. To achieve these targets, the following practices will be adopted:
- The energy and water efficiency of buildings will be improved. For example, government data centres are to achieve the Green Mark Platinum standard by 2025.
- Public agencies will purchase products, such as electrical appliances, water fittings, building materials, and vehicles, that meet high efficiency or sustainability standards.
- Sustainability features will be incorporated at public spaces such as hawker centres and community clubs to raise public awareness.
The public sector is working towards releasing a report on our sustainability performance.
Read more: GreenGov.SG
To ensure that we have the fiscal resources to deliver on our plans, we have enhanced our fiscal toolkit:
- The Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (SINGA) passed in 2021 enables the Government to borrow to finance nationally significant infrastructure. This will spread large expenditures equitably across the generations who will directly benefit from these long-term developments.
- The Government announced plans to increase various taxes at Budget 2022. These revenue measures are expected to generate about $4 billion per year when fully implemented. The moves will ensure that each generation and all segments of society contribute a fair share to meet Singapore’s rising structural spending needs. Everyone contributes towards the collective good, but those with more will contribute more taxes than the benefits they receive, while those with less will receive more benefits than the taxes they contribute.
Read more: Health and Wellness | Environment and Sustainability
Improving service delivery
The third pillar of an effective government is delivering better services to individuals.
A key effort has been to improve our services through digitalisation, with the Digital Government Blueprint focusing on making transactions easy, seamless, and secure. Since 2019, over 95% of government transactions have been completed digitally from end-to-end. 85% of citizens were very or extremely satisfied with our digital services.
- The Singpass application was enhanced to enable users to access their identity cards digitally, including the National Registration Identity Card and Driving Licence. The digital cards are accepted at all public agencies. As at March 2022, there were over 3.7 million Singpass application users, up from 2.4 million users in 2021.
- Singaporean households can claim and spend their digital Community Development Council (CDC) Vouchers with ease via RedeemSG. As at October 2022, 1.19 million (97.6%) households have claimed their CDC Vouchers for 2021 while 1.12 million (92.1%) have claimed their vouchers for 2022. Over 19,000 participating heartland merchants and hawkers have benefitted from the voucher scheme and system, with close to $198 million spent.
- GovWallet has been integrated with various government applications to enable Singaporeans to receive and use government benefits seamlessly. For example, over a million National Servicemen have received their NS55 Recognition Package credits via LifeSG. The credit can be spent via the application at over 164,000 PayNow and 43,000 NETS registered merchants. Workfare and Goods & Services Tax Voucher recipients without bank accounts can withdraw their payouts at automated teller machines integrated with GovWallet. Since November 2021, more than 6,200 Workfare recipients have been able to do so.
While we push for digitalisation to improve services, we recognise that digital access can be challenging for some segments of the population. There are currently six ServiceSG centres islandwide providing citizens with one-stop access to key government services across multiple agencies. One more centre will be launched at Bukit Canberra by March 2023. As at August 2022, the ServiceSG centres achieved an average customer satisfaction score of 98%.
Read more: Retirement | Social Safety Nets | Business Environment
One Public Service
As Singapore emerges from the pandemic, there will be new opportunities and emerging challenges. There will be increased pressures on scarce public resources as Singapore’s needs grow and the population ages. The public service will renew and reinvent ourselves, acting together as One Public Service to achieve more.