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Government to take 'Strong Partnerships' approach to rebuilding post-crisis Singapore

THE new buzz phrase in town is "whole-of-government" (WOG). The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) wants this to be the tack Singapore takes to navigate its way out of the current public health and economic crisis and to rebuild "a better Singapore post-crisis".

It is in the spirit of WOG that a number of government agencies have come together to issue their addendum to the address delivered by President Halimah Yacob on Monday.

The agencies behind the addendum, presented under the theme "WOG: Strong Partnerships, Trusted Government", are: the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Strategy Group of the PMO, the Public Service Division, the Science and Technology Policy and Plans Office, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group.

The "Strong Partnerships" theme is in line with President Halimah's call for unity in responding to the fundamental changes brought about by Covid-19 and tackling the common challenges Singapore face.

As noted in the joint statement by MCCY, MOF and the PMO divisions, President Halimah had said that Singaporeans must be prepared to embrace new ideas and ways of doing things to improve people's lives and stay exceptional.

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She had said that their diversity of views, ideas and aspirations can be a source of strength as they deal with a changing world - and she urged all Singaporeans to partner one another and the government to overcome their current challenges and rise stronger from the crisis.

In their addenda, MCCY, MOF and the PMO divisions outlined three key thrusts:

* To partner Singaporeans in building a resilient and caring society;

* To transform the Public Service and maintain a sustainable system; and

* To speed up digitisation in the government.

MCCY, helmed by Edwin Tong, said it would kick off the "Emerging Stronger Conversations" to give Singaporeans, including youth, a platform to reflect on their experience with the crisis, share their dreams for Singapore and work together to build a stronger society.

His ministry will take a holistic approach and team up with all relevant players to grow volunteerism efforts through the "SG Cares" movement to build a caring and cohesive Singapore. It will also partner stakeholders in the arts, heritage and sports communities to bring Singaporeans together, inspire them and celebrate the Singapore spirit.

MOF, under Heng Swee Keat as Finance Minister, said it would strengthen its revenue position to fund growing national needs, especially in healthcare and social spending, while ensuring a fair and progressive fiscal system.

It will develop a framework for responsible and sustainable use of borrowing to finance major long-term infrastructure investments, and will continue to manage the nation's resources and reserves sustainably for tomorrow's Singaporeans.

PMO's Strategy Group, headed by Mr Heng in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister, said it would partner employers and the community to continue pushing for Singaporeans to marry and become parents, even amid the pandemic. It said Singapore must remain "Made for Families".

The Strategy Group will also organise cross-ministry efforts to review the longer-term policy agenda, including closer coordination across economic and social policies to ensure that there will be jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans in the post-Covid-19 world.

PMO's Public Service Division said it will organise the Public Service differently to improve problem-solving beyond agency boundaries, such as by harnessing the resources of cross-agency teams.

Its Science and Technology Policy and Plans team wants to "aggregate science and technology demand across WOG for greater efficiency". The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group aims to make digital services accessible to all Singaporeans, and to build up the national digital infrastructure, platforms and standards to support digital transactions and commerce.

PMO's Public Service Division, Science and Technology Policy and Plans and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group are headed by Chan Chun Sing, the Minister for Trade and Industry and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service.

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