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Companies must work closely with government amid uncertainty: DPM Heng

THE Singapore government and the corporate sector must work more closely together, especially against a backdrop of slowing global and domestic growth, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told an audience of 800 business leaders at the Singapore Corporate Awards 2019 on Tuesday.

This was one of three ways that he suggested businesses should focus on amid the current political, economic, social and technological upheaval. The other two are to strengthen their fundamentals and maintain good corporate governance, as well as pressing on with innovation and transformation.

In his keynote address at Resorts World Convention Centre, Mr Heng said that the government will continue to partner businesses to promote forward-looking, pro-business regulations and policies.

This includes working towards smarter regulations that would enable innovation and reduce the cost of compliance, while ensuring that risks are effectively managed.

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Some examples include introducing regulatory sandboxes such as for fintech and for autonomous vehicles. Firms can now testbed new solutions in real but contained environments.

On the digital front, the government is also working with the industry to enhance business processes and efficiency with new guidelines and norms.

Other initiatives are underway. The Infocomm Media Development Authority is proposing changes to facilitate digital transactions, including the digitalisation of property transactions and cross-border trade documentation such as bills of lading, which are legal documents issued by a carrier to a shipper that detail information about the goods being carried. A public consultation was announced last month on the Electronic Transactions Act.

In addition, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority is also reviewing the Companies Act to expressly provide for the use of digital means for companies to conduct meetings and interact with stakeholders.

On the international trade front, while the support for globalisation has waned, the government will continue to promote an open, rules-based, multilateral trading system, Mr Heng said.

"In our next phase of our development, the 4G leadership will also strive to harness our diverse strengths... We have already begun the journey, with the Future Economy Council, a tripartite committee that charts the direction of Singapore's economy, and the ongoing implementation of our Industry Transformation Maps," he said.

Mr Heng added that government agencies will continue to help workers upskill and reskill to meet the needs of the future economy.