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Singapore Government ICT Initiatives Encourage Sophisticated Demand for Infocomm and Benefits the Infocomm Industry

12 May 2009 - Opening Address By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore At The Industry Briefing 2009 - Business Opportunities For Infocomm In The Public Sector, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Opening Address By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore At The Industry Briefing 2009 - Business Opportunities For Infocomm In The Public Sector, Tuesday, 12 May 2009, 9.00am At The Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

1. Welcome to this year’s Industry Briefing on business opportunities for infocomm in the public sector. This annual event seeks to share with industry the Government’s infocomm procurement plans for the financial year ahead. We hope this will also help our industry members to better plan their participation in the infocomm development efforts of the Government.
Infocomm Still Relevant and Important in Singapore and the World

2. There is an increasing need for governments to enhance the delivery of public services through infocomm technology to bring about greater efficiency and responsiveness. To that end, Singapore has been ranked consistently among the top few countries in the world for successfully leveraging infocomm technology to engage its citizens and businesses. For example, Singapore was first in the 2009 Waseda University International e-Government Rankings, 2nd in the 2008 International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Yearbook, and among the top 5 in the World Economic Forum Global IT Report for five consecutive years.
3. We are currently in the midst of a major economic downturn, where most companies, including infocomm enterprises, are affected.  The Government has been implementing various plans and measures to assist the industry during this downturn, including continuing its significant investments in infocomm, and seeding opportunities for the creation and utilisation of infocomm services by Government, businesses and the public.

Measures to Help Enterprises during the Economic Recession

4. Since the onset of the economic downturn, suppliers of goods and services to Government agencies have given their feedback on the difficulties they face on cashflow issues. To better help these suppliers to manage their cashflow, Government agencies have been advised to adopt measures that would allow payments to be disbursed on a more frequent basis and in a prompt manner, based on work done by their suppliers. Agencies have also been advised to review the requirement for security deposits from their suppliers and based on the assessment of the risk profile of the contracts, the security deposits could either be waived, reduced or allowed partial release for all tenders. In addition, from 1 Apr 09, fees for additional GeBIZ accounts have also been lowered.

5. Many Government agencies have introduced loans, grants and initiatives to help businesses during the current economic downturn. One example is the SME Infocomm Package or SIP that was launched by IDA under the Infocomm@SME programme in June 2008. The SIP offers one-stop, ready-to-go bundled infocomm solutions for hardware, applications, website development, broadband connectivity and maintenance support for SMEs. Under the SIP, a subsidy is made available to benefit at least 5,000 SMEs to create a web presence for their business. To further encourage adoption by SMEs during this economic downturn, the SIP was enhanced with an increased subsidy cap of $2,000 per SME with effect from 1 Apr this year to Mar 2011. The enhanced SIP subsidy supports 80% of the costs of website development, monthly broadband subscription, website hosting and website maintenance for the first 12 months. Since its launch last June, more than 1,000 SMEs have benefited from the SIP.

6. The Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme, or CITREP, which encourages infocomm professionals to acquire critical infocomm skills was also enhanced with effect from 1 Apr, last month. The Enhanced CITREP supports the course and exam fees for training courses and certification in various infocomm segments. The fee support has been increased from 50% to 80% and supporting organisations will also be eligible for Absentee Payroll at $50 per day when they sponsor their employees for full-time training. $25 million has been set aside for the Enhanced CITREP over the next two years and 10,000 infocomm professionals are expected to benefit. In addition, a total of 258 courses has been submitted for endorsement under the  Enhanced CITREP, an  increase of about 100 courses from last year.

7. All these measures will help to alleviate some of the difficulties that companies face during this downturn, and encourage them to sustain and upgrade their manpower, leverage on infocomm for efficiency and effectiveness, and develop their capabilities and services. Toward that end, we will continue to gather views and feedback from industry and provide support where possible.

Government Continues to Invest in Infocomm

8. The Government will continue to invest in infocomm to enable our economic and social development. For the financial year that has just ended, the Government awarded 621 infocomm tenders worth more than $1.6 billion to 296 companies.

9. Some of the impactful projects awarded include the Contact Centre Services by MOM and the Integrated Electronic Litigation System by the Supreme Court. The largest contract awarded last year was to OpenNet for the Next Gen NBN Network Company in September, with a government grant of $750 million. Subsequently, at the start of FY09 in April, IDA selected Nucleus Connect as the Next Gen NBN Operating Company, with a government grant of $250 million.

10. For FY09, the infocomm industry can look forward to more than 392 tenders worth a total of $1.73 billion, 40% of which are worth more than half a million dollars each. Some of the high value projects include MOE’s Standard ICT Operating Environment for Schools, DSTA’s Next Generation Land and Building Management & Maintenance Systems and MHA’s Immigration and Checkpoint Clearance and Screening Systems.

11. Other projects include Calls for Collaboration by IDA for the industry to develop innovative infocomm solutions. For example, two months ago, IDA issued a CFC for the trade and logistics sectors. We invited companies to participate in this CFC by forming consortia to integrate their key IT systems, business processes and data through TradeXchange. It is envisaged that these integrations will result in greater operational efficiencies, clearer supply chain visibility, faster shipment turnaround and higher productivity for the trade and logistics communities. For the IT service providers, this CFC will provide them with the opportunity to use TradeXchange as a multi-party collaboration platform to expand their service offerings and provide a more efficient end-to-end solution to their customers.

12. Last month, IDA also issued a CFC inviting industry to participate in the deployment of contactless point-of-sale or POS terminals in selected merchant segments. This CFC is part of IDA's programme to promote e-payment adoption, as the wide availability of contactless POS terminals is one of the important infrastructural pieces needed to support future mobile payments, such as those enabled by Near Field Communication or NFC technology.

13. In the next couple of months, IDA will be calling a CFC to invite industry to participate in the Digital Concierge programme. The focus of the programme is to foster the growth of a vibrant mobile eco-system by collaborating with industry to develop and deploy mobile commerce applications, location-based services and innovative mobile services.

Industry Participation Continues to be Vital

14. The Government values collaboration with industry, as it leads to the development of infocomm infrastructure and government services that are robust and effective in responding to the needs of our citizens and businesses. We look forward to more of such opportunities for partnership, which serves to encourage sophisticated demand for infocomm, spur the development of innovative services and knowledge capital and strengthen Singapore as an economic hub.

15. With their proven track record of providing services and solutions to the Singapore Government, our infocomm companies can also leverage on their expertise and experience to expand their business opportunities overseas. The Ministry of Finance and IDA in collaboration with the Singapore Exhibition Services are organising the inaugural iGov Global Exchange next month, during the week of the annual imbX exhibition. With a dedicated Forum reaching out to 400 international e-Government leaders and a four-day Exhibition showcasing our best-of-breed e-Government solutions to 60,000 international delegates in the infocomm business, the iGov Global Exchange will be an excellent opportunity for our companies to foster international partnerships and build their brand awareness. I encourage our companies to participate in this event to showcase their organisations’ capabilities and expertise in e-Government.

16. In closing, Government infocomm demand will continue to be an important factor in promoting a vibrant infocomm industry. Through our close collaboration with industry, we can bring together both private and public sector expertise to deliver effective and innovative services to the public. I wish one and all every success in the year ahead.

Thank you.

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