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Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat, at MOT Committee of Supply Debate 2021 on Growing a Pro-Enterprise and Pro-Worker Ecosystem

05 Mar 2021 In Parliament

Mr Chairman,
 
1.    I will speak about growing our maritime sector and LTA’s pro-enterprise efforts.
 
Growing Maritime Singapore
 
2.    Maritime Singapore did well last year. Our port handled 36.9 million TEUs. Our International Maritime Centre grew in scale and diversity. We attracted 11 new shipping groups to Singapore, and worked with 8 maritime companies to expand their operations here.
 
3.    Mr Saktiandi Supaat asked about growing the maritime sector and creating jobs. This is important. We must not be too satisfied with our success to become complacent.
 
4.    We will build on the momentum and seize new opportunities to create an integrated, innovative, and inclusive Maritime Singapore ecosystem. What we call the three “I”s. 
 
Integrated Ecosystem
 
5.    Let me start with the first “I” (integrated).
 
6.    Our port is consistently ranked first or second in the world on efficiency, reliability and connectivity. 
 
7.    But future growth is never guaranteed. If we don’t stay ahead of the competition, others will steal our lunch. 
 
8.    We must continue to differentiate ourselves and bring value to our customers.  
 
9.    We are consolidating all of PSA’s operations from Pasir Panjang, Keppel and Brani into one integrated Tuas Port, what PM called “our next bold move”.  Mr Melvin Yong and Mr Ang Wei Neng asked for an update on Tuas Port. We are on track to complete the first phase of land reclamation works by end of this year. Creating 400 hectares to support 21 berths and handle 20 million TEUs a year. When Tuas Port is fully operational, it will be as large as two Ang Mo Kios. And handle up to 65 million TEUs a year, 50% more than our current capacity. This additional capacity will allow PSA to serve more ships, and further enhance our network connectivity, which is a critical factor for a transhipment hub port.  
 
10.    Tuas Port will offer best-in-class efficiency, productivity, reliability and sustainability. It will be fully automated – from cranes to driverless vehicles. These will more than double our labour productivity at Tuas, compared to our City Terminals, and create many skilled jobs for Singaporeans in the port sector. It will also be a greener port, with a 50% reduction in carbon emissions intensity.  
 
11.    The concept of integration extends beyond the port. To key sectors like advanced manufacturing, cold chain and logistics, which form the Tuas Port ecosystem, we can move containers directly from the ships to the factories, without additional delays or handling costs. We are also enhancing digital integration to facilitate data exchange; helping companies to enjoy greater convenience, reduce costs and save time. 
 
12.    Mr Ang Wei Neng asked about accessibility and housing for workers. We plan to develop Tuas South region for industrial use over the next two decades. We will continue to explore viable transport options for workers, and work with MND to increase public housing options in the West.
 
13.    We will further grow our International Maritime Centre; and encourage maritime companies to expand their operations here, including maritime law and arbitration, ship management, and marine insurance. We aim to bring in $20 billion in total business spending commitments from maritime companies from 2020 to 2024, and create more jobs and more opportunities for our people.
 
Innovative Hub 
 
14.    Let me move to the second “I”, an innovative Maritime Singapore.  
 
15.    We will partner and support maritime technology SMEs to: push research and technology boundaries; scale up and team up; and turn challenges into new opportunities for growth. 
 
16.    We will increase the cap of co-funding support for maritime technology SMEs, from 50% currently to 70%, and encourage industry players to share expertise and resources to co-develop scalable solutions. Eligible projects by industry consortiums will also receive up to 70% co-funding support. 
 
17.    MPA will top up $15 million to the Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund. In total, we will have $100 million to fund maritime R&D and product development.
 
18.    We aim to more than triple the number of maritime tech start-ups supported under the PIER71 funding programme, from 30 to 100 by 2025. The start-up ecosystem is gaining momentum with wider industry support. Recently, SEEDS Capital partnered venture development firms to co-invest up to $50 million into maritime technology start-ups.
 
19.    Our goal is to be the top maritime start-up hub in the world, the Silicon Valley for maritime technology.
 
20. Mr Saktiandi asked about the Green Energy and Technology Programme. A key project is the electrification of harbour craft. Our call for proposals has received interest from 16 industry consortiums. MPA is also drawing up a Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050 together with the industry, to promote sustainable practices and identify new job opportunities.
 
Inclusive Growth
 
21.    I have spoken about the first two “I”s – integrated and innovative.   
 
22.    The third “I” is inclusive, which reflects our vision of creating a diverse range of jobs for Singaporeans with different backgrounds and skill sets.
 
23.    We want to attract and train more Singaporeans to take on seafaring and shore-based jobs. As the maritime sector grows and transforms, there will be new opportunities and new pathways: in areas such as environmental sustainability; systems engineering, cybersecurity, and data analytics. MPA is partnering the industry and institutions of higher learning to facilitate training, attachment and traineeship opportunities as part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. The training allowances will increase from 1 April. We are also encouraging maritime companies to tap on the Jobs Growth Incentive to increase local hiring, as well as professional conversion programmes for mid-career entrants. 
 
24.    MPA will partner the industry to groom a pipeline of future leaders for Maritime Singapore.  We are starting a new Maritime Leadership Programme to train up to 30 local maritime managers for the first two runs, to hone their leadership skills, build global perspectives on key maritime issues, and strengthen their business networks locally and abroad.
 
Enhancing LTA’s Pro-enterprise efforts
 
25.    Let me now turn to LTA’s pro-enterprise efforts. Mr Saktiandi and Mr Ang Wei Neng asked about this.  
 
26.    LTA’s work impacts businesses beyond the land transport sector.
 
27.    The built environment sector is one example, as development plans involving transport infrastructure or traffic flows require LTA’s approval. 
 
28.    Companies often request LTA to expedite their approvals, to reduce processing time and business costs. Companies also introduce new business models and technologies, including green solutions. So LTA’s rules and regulations need to stay ahead of the curve, to support innovation.  
 
29.    At the same time, LTA is responsible for public safety and a pleasant commuting experience for all. A balance must be struck.  
 
30.    In line with the SG Together movement, LTA will partner the industry to make its approval process more pro-business.
 
31.    It will form a Transport Infrastructure Collaboration Panel with representatives from the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Architects and Institution of Engineers Singapore.
 
32.    The panel will find ways to reduce business costs and improve efficiency. For example, it will simplify and shorten the approval process for development plans, by expanding the lodgement scheme to allow more categories of submissions to receive in-principle approval upon submission. This win-win outcome can only be achieved if the industry is clear about what is required in the submissions, to avoid multiple back and forths. LTA will work with the professional bodies to conduct sessions and raise awareness on what is required for the submissions. LTA is also working with URA and other agencies to better integrate transport and land use planning related information. This will be uploaded online for public access when ready.  It will reduce information gaps and facilitate more public-private collaborations.
 
33.    Next, the panel will review existing rules and set up regulatory sandboxes to support innovative ideas and new business models. As regulator, LTA is a gatekeeper. It needs to assess proposals objectively. Some they will support, others they will have to say no. It is not free for all, but also not nothing at all. To try new ideas, we must also be prepared to take calculated risks and accept some failure along the way. If we have zero tolerance for failure, or if we are too afraid of making mistakes, we will have zero capacity for innovation. This is why I support setting up regulatory sandboxes where necessary to pilot new technologies and business models. If the experiment fails, we limit the downsides, we learn from the experience and we try again. If it succeeds, we can scale up the idea and extend it to other areas across Singapore. This is what former Head of Civil Service, Mr Peter Ho calls “aiming for safe fail, rather than fail safe”.  
 
Conclusion
 
34.    Mr Chairman, in the Summer Palace in Beijing, there was a stone boat built by Emperor Qianlong. He hoped the Qing Dynasty would be like the stone boat – unshakeable and unsinkable. Unfortunately, it is also un-sailable. And we know what eventually happened to the Qing Dynasty. When we build ships, it is not to anchor them in the harbour or in some lake in the Summer Palace. It is to sail out to the oceans, to the open seas and reach new lands, including going into uncharted waters.
 
35.   To be an innovative nation, we must have the same pioneering spirit and sense of adventure like our forefathers: Willing to leave our comfort zones and take calculated risks, never giving up when we encounter challenges, and always looking to pursue new rainbows on the horizon.
 
36.   Thank you.