On 9 February 2017, Singapore's Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) released a report outlining seven strategies to keep Singapore competitive in the face of a challenging global climate.
The CFE is a 30-member committee comprising members from different industries that operate in both global and domestic markets, as well as enterprises both large and small. It is co-chaired by Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Trade and Industry Mr S Iswaran.
Critically, the CFE recommends building strong digital capabilities. In this regard, Singapore should assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt digital technologies by providing expertise and financing support. The Government can continue to promote national initiatives such as the National Trade Platform, which aims to connect businesses through a trade and logistics IT ecosystem.
In addition, the Government should build deep capabilities in applied data analytics and cybersecurity by partnering with industry players and leveraging on National Service (NS), where full-time NS men can be trained to develop niche skills in cybersecurity. This is consistent with Singapore's new cybersecurity strategy, which focuses on strengthening the country's cyber infrastructure.
Moreover, the Government can create a dedicated programme office to collect and facilitate data usage, thereby improving Singapore's ability to use data productively in the economy. This office can provide industry-specific regulatory guidance and co-develop flagship data science projects.
The Government has accepted the CFE's report and intends to implement all the proposed strategies. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that ministers will provide a full response during the Singapore Parliament's Budget and Committee of Supply debates next month.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see the Government's concrete plans for establishing Singapore's digital and cybersecurity capabilities.