Singapore to invest $740M on new e-government push

Singapore launched its Second e-Government Action Plan (eGAP II) Tuesday, promising to make virtually all government services and procedures available online by 2006.

Among the stated goals are:

– to have 90 percent of the government’s customers, whether businesses or individuals, use e-services at least once a year;

– to have 80 percent of these users satisfied with the overall quality of e-services;

– to implement 12 more cross-agency integrated e-service

The government will invest S$1.3 billion (US$740 million) in this second phase of the plan, which is aimed at driving the country forward both economically and socially, according to Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We must be more dynamic, entrepreneurial and self-reliant, including venturing abroad, to seize and exploit the opportunities around us,” he said in a transcript of his speech at the launch. “The environment is more uncertain and more competitive…(and)… our old model of relying on foreign direct investment for economic growth will no longer suffice.”

Singapore has already put 1,600 public services online, from filing tax returns and applying for a passport to booking sports facilities. About 75 percent of Singaporeans who need to transact with the Government have done so through electronic means, Lee said, quoting a government survey.

Continuing on this path through the use of IT will reduce bureaucracy and enable Singapore companies to compete better, Lee said.

One application under development is the Online Application System for Integrated Services (OASIS). Using OASIS, a company can register a business and apply for all required licenses by visiting just one Web site.

On the social side, eGAP II will enable citizens to have a more effective say in how Singaporean society evolves, according to Lee.

“These days, when a member of public writes in to make a suggestion, he will not simply accept ‘no’ as the answer. He expects a serious explanation, and will debate the pros and cons of what he is proposing.”

The government recently launched an Online Consultation Portal for that purpose, designed to make giving feedback and airing views easier than before.

The broad aim of eGAP II is a major overhaul of Singapore’s business and society to meet new challenges, Lee said.

“Ultimately, eGAP II is not about IT, but about changing the approach to government,” he said “The default answer to any request cannot be to preserve the status quo, but to ask why the status quo should remain, what we can learn from the members of public, and what other perspectives are relevant in considering the issue. This is the biggest change we are aiming for, which will go a long way to remaking Singapore.”

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