SINGAPORE: Collaboration among regulatory agencies, trade associations and technology agencies is key, as it becomes more difficult to regulate industries, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Friday (9 Nov).
He was speaking at the Pro-Enterprise Panel – Singapore Business Federation (PEP-SBF) Awards, which recognise efforts by the private and public sector to create a more pro-enterprise environment.
He said the growing difficulty stems from a mix of new and traditional challenges.
New challenges include the rapid pace of technological advancements, which makes it difficult for regulators to stay ahead of the curve.
“For regulators to understand science and technology, is one thing. For them to understand the science and technology that will emerge and have an impact on business, is yet another order of difficulty,” he said.
Another emerging challenge is that society is becoming more complex, making it "tempting to withdraw into silos" and look at each sectors' rules in isolation.
Meanwhile, conventional challenges include the need for regulators to understand their sectors well, while avoiding "regulatory capture" – which is when agencies put the interests of businesses before the public's.
Mr Chan also said agencies must understand both sectoral and wider societal interests while being able “to harmonise and internalise” them.
MORE COLLABORATION NEEDED TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES
To overcome these challenges, Mr Chan suggested three ways to collaborate better.
As an example of cross-sectoral efforts within the government, he cited how Sunseap, a clean energy provider, secured a location for its offshore generator with the help of the Pro-Enterprise Panel.
The firm's project fell within the jurisdiction of nine agencies – including the Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Parks Board and Maritime and Port Authority (MPA).
The agencies worked together to bring the project to fruition, ending Sunseap’s two-year administrative struggle.
"This is why it is so important for our public servants to understand issues not just within their agencies, but to also collaborate across multiple agencies so that we do not make the environment any more difficult than it need be for our businesses," he said.
Mr Chan also cited the collaboration between regulatory agencies and trade associations as an area for improvement.
He said these associations are among those that understand the sectors the best, and thus there should be a "constant dialogue".
According to Mr Chan, this intensified interaction could then build up trust and a better understanding.
Lastly, he noted that regulatory agencies should work more closely with technology agencies to put in place "enabling rules" ahead of time.
"We need to have a deep understanding of the evolving technological landscape. We cannot do this in isolation and we can't wait for the technologies to emerge before we start thinking about the rules," Mr Chan said.
CREATING A PRO-ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENT
On Friday, 28 awards were given out to businesses, trade associations and public agencies for their collaborative efforts to enhance Singapore's pro-enterprise environment.
The awards are based on the results of the Pro-Enterprise Ranking Survey, which has been conducted every year since 2004.
This year, the MPA, Singapore Land Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore topped the survey.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore bagged the Gold Public Sector Pro-Enterprise Initiative Award, which recognises those who have been proactive in finding ways to support the evolving needs of businesses.
The Health Sciences Authority received a Silver award, while the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore received the Bronze.