More govt e-services for S'poreans, platform to help firms share data

More govt e-services for S'poreans, platform to help firms share data
Ms Sim Ann said the Government’s digital drive is bearing fruit.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singaporeans will soon be able to access more government services online and on their mobile devices while at home or on the go.

Companies will also find it easier to do business with ministries and agencies as they share more data with each other and cut through red tape. Senior Minister of State Sim Ann, in outlining these coming changes, said at least six agencies will go paperless and, by 2020, most of their records and operations will be digitised.

The six are: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras), Ministry of Manpower, Supreme Court, State Courts and Vital, which is the Government's shared services centre.

With the move to digital, users of ICA's services need to submit supporting documents only once, instead of doing it each time they apply, said Ms Sim as she wrapped up yesterday's debate on the budget of the Ministry of Finance.

She also said the Government's digital drive is bearing fruit.

Taxpayers spend less time filing their taxes because of electronic tax-filing and no-filing schemes.

Employers can also renew their foreign domestic worker permits online themselves, instead of going through an agent.

As for businesses, the upcoming National Trade Platform will provide software tools to help them digitise their documents or information.

This will help bosses share their business data with the Government and business partners, a move that will allow them to plan their operations better.

Ms Sim also assured MPs such as Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan) that seniors unfamiliar with technology will not be left behind.

She said the 26 Citizen Connect Centres, used by 120,000 Singaporeans last year, will be upgraded.

These centres are kiosks with mobile tablets featuring touch screen interfaces that are less cumbersome and easier for the elderly to use.

Some kiosks will be height-adjustable for wheelchair users.

The home pages of the tablets will also be redesigned for users to access swiftly the most commonly used services, such as checking their Central Provident Fund accounts and personal tax statements.

Bridging the digital divide was addressed later by Minister of State Janil Puthucheary as well, during the debate on the Ministry of Communications and Information's budget.

"We must ensure that no segment of the community is excluded from computer and Internet connectivity, especially low-income households, the elderly, and people with special needs," he said.

He added: "Getting people online is only the start. Serving them online is just as important."

During the Finance Ministry debate, some MPs also urged the Government to make it easier for small companies to comply with regulations, or to win government contracts.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) said business owners had complained to him that their grant applications had been rejected multiple times because of inadequate information.

Replying, Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said the Government continually reviews the appropriate level of documents and information needed for grant applications.

It will also help promising start-ups with good products but no track record compete, she added.

This article was first published on April 12, 2016.
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