News Recap

News Recap – 05 Sep to 11 Sep

11 Sep 2020

1. TraceTogether Tokens to be Distributed from Monday

TraceTogether tokens will be distributed nationwide starting next Monday, as Singapore strengthens its contact tracing network in preparation for allowing larger gatherings while it opens up further.      

A pilot scheme requiring people to use either the free tokens or the mobile app to check in at certain venues will also start next month, said Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic.      

Noting that the app has been downloaded 2.4 million times so far, he added: "But we actually still want to push participation in this programme because this is one of those things where the more people we have on board, the more effective the level of protection afforded to all of us."  

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2. Five Key Areas the Singapore Government will Focus on Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

To round up five days of debate on the President’s Address, in his closing speech, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay summed up speeches made by the various Members of Parliament along five key unifying themes, as outlined in President Halimah Yacob’s address.      

He also highlighted suggestions put forth by members in these respective areas, and reiterated how unity will be key for Singapore to move forward.      

The five key areas the Singapore government will focus on amid the COVID-19 crisis are:  

  1. Sustainability – imperatives for change
  2. Securing jobs for Singaporeans  
  3. Social compact – building a fair and just society  
  4. Strengthening our Singapore identity  
  5. Evolving politics  


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3. Eligible Singapore Firms to Receive Jobs Growth Incentive from March 2021 in Support of Hiring Locals 

From March 2021, eligible firms in Singapore can look forward to receiving support payouts as part of the government's Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI).      

The scheme, which aims to support businesses in the hiring of locals, will cost the government a total of S$1bn, the Ministry of Manpower announced on Friday (4 September). Eligible firms need not apply for the payouts, which will be computed each month based on their CPF contributions.      

"Notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19, there remain areas of strength in our economy and there are firms that continue to do well. The JGI provides substantial salary support to enable these firms to bring forward their hiring plans and grow their local workforce over the next six months, from September 2020 to February 2021.      

"Together with the extension of the Jobs Support Scheme, this is a major boost for job creation for locals," the Ministry stated.   

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4. Foreigners from India Must Take Virus Test Before Entering Singapore

All travellers from India who are not Singaporeans or permanent residents will have to take a Covid-19 test before departing for Singapore.

From next Thursday, they will have to present a valid negative test result from a polymerase chain reaction test, which must be taken within 72 hours before their flight here.      

This new and more stringent border restriction, which covers travellers who were in India within 14 days of their arrival in Singapore, will apply on top of existing requirements - a two-week stay-home notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities and a further negative Covid-19 test before the end of the SHN.  

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5. Location-Based Data Technology More Crucial than Before Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Geospatial, or location-based data, technology is more crucial now amid the pandemic as it can be used to help contain the spread of Covid-19 through solutions such as crowd management applications.      

This sentiment was shared by several speakers at the virtual launch of Singapore Geospatial Week+ on Wednesday (Sept 9) morning, an event promoting the importance and growth of geospatial technology in Singapore and beyond.      

Mr Simon Ong, acting chief executive of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), said: "The importance of geospatial (technology) cannot be emphasised more, especially in today's environment."  

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6. Return to the Office Soon? MOH Advises Employers to Enable Off-Peak Commuting Post 0930 hours for Employees

In the daily briefing of Singapore's Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MMF) on COVID-19 guidelines, the authorities have provided a possible path to enable more workers to return to workplaces safely.      

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is working with tripartite partners on the next phase of Safe Management Measures (SMMs) for workplaces, given that many employers have sought guidance on ways to enable more employees to return to the workplace safely.      

As such, the MMF has urged employers "to implement flexible workplace hours, so that a good part of workers are able to travel off-peak, i.e. after 0930 hours".      

"This would help to mitigate the risk of crowding in public places as well as office buildings with more individuals commuting to and from work especially during peak hours. It is in the interest of the employers to protect your workers against the risk of COVID-19. Otherwise, if a cluster is formed at the workplace, it would disrupt business severely."      

Since Singapore entered Phase Two post the Circuit Breaker, telecommuting or working from home has remained the default.  

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7. Minister Josephine Teo Responds to PQs on Fair Employment Practices, Cost-Saving Measures, and Retrenchment

In Parliament on Friday (4 September), Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo tackled a series of questions by Members of Parliament (MP), on the topics of fair employment practices, fair cost-saving measures, and retrenchments. The questions include:    

  • How employers' employment practices are monitored and how they are held accountable 
  • Publicly naming the firms who have been placed on the FCF Watchlist, and for their access to government grants and tax incentive schemes to be withdrawn.
  • How tripartite consultations have focused on ensuring fairness in cost-saving measures and retrenchments.  


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8. More firms setting up Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) desks in Singapore: Chan Chun Sing

More companies have set-up LNG desks in Singapore to capitalise on rising demand for gas in Asia, its trade minister told a virtual conference on Monday (07 Sept).    

Singapore currently has over 50 companies with an LNG trading or business development presence in Singapore, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told the Gastech virtual summit. This compares with more than 45 firms with dedicated LNG desks as of September 2018. Asia's appetite for the fuel, led by China, is expected to grow over the long term, attracting investment and triggering new LNG trading desks opening globally. 

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9. Going contactless in the Light of COVID-19

The current COVID-19 pandemic situation across the globe is known to many by the back of their hands. There is no doubt that major cities at this stage, some at lockdown and while others are slowly reopening up their economies, are introducing digital initiatives and driving contactless transactions.    

According to Forbes, the usage of traffic across mobile and fixed networks has seen a steep increase from 30% to 50%. This data shows that people will have to leverage on telecommunications to adapt to the new normal of living, working, and shopping online.   

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10. A Culture of Innovation Strengthens Business Resilience and Fuels Economic Recovery in Singapore

As Singapore and Asia Pacific continue to tackle with the disruptions resulting from the pandemic, 80% of business decision-makers in Singapore today versus 67% pre-COVID say that innovation is now a ‘must’ for them to respond swiftly to market challenges and opportunities, and ensure success. This is reverberated by almost all (98%) leading organisations in Asia Pacific with the most mature Culture of Innovation (Leaders) who agree that innovation is a necessity to staying resilient during a crisis.  

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11. 12 Things to Consider as you Reset your People Strategies for the 'New Normal'

As companies look to reset for the new world of work that emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for them to make several shifts in mindsets. In particular, the shift towards an approach that values talent as a key asset that contributes to an organisation's sustained value creation will be crucial, revealed a joint report by Willis Towers Watson and the World Economic Forum.

The report outlined a human accounting framework that can help organisations measure and quantify the contribution of their people in the same way it measures returns on financial and intellectual capital, as well as provided five workforce principles that can help guide employers to plan and implement an ethical and sustainable reset of their people strategies as they emerge into the 'new normal'.  

  1. See this crisis as a defining leadership moment
  2. Adopt an agile and continuous learning mindset  
  3. Understand the perspectives of all stakeholders and engage them in decision-making  
  4. Focus on the intersection of employee and company well-being
  5. Make decisions and take actions that consider medium-term needs and longer term business objectives    

It also shared seven guiding principles to shift how organisations value people. These include shifts from:  

  1. Profit to purpose
  2. Corporate policy to social responsibility
  3. Stand-alone entities to ecosystems
  4. Employees and jobs to people, work and skills
  5. Workforce as an expense to workforce as an asset
  6. Backward-looking financial metrics to forward-looking value metrics
  7. Quarterly to generational  


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12. How to Hire During a Global Crisis

Human Resources Director (HRD, Singapore) reveals the most pressing factors to consider when hiring during COVID-19.    

Employers in all industries have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. However, the impact has been uneven on businesses, Katie Birch, director of sales at Indeed Singapore told HRD. Thereby, the impact on recruitment has varied across sectors.    

Key challenges to hire during this pandemic:  

  • Hiring freeze or priortisation of roles
  • Budget cuts
  • Over supply of candidates      

Leaders can consider the value of retaining high-performing employees within their organisations for “hard-to-fill” senior roles and shift focus to upskilling or succession planning, as mentioned by Birch.  

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13. Singapore Remains Open to Global Talent; Aim is to Benefit, not Substitute Singaporeans: Chan Chun Sing 

Singapore’s foreign worker policies are shifting towards “quality rather than quantity” but the country still welcomes foreign talent, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (08 Sept).    

Mr Chan, who was speaking at a virtual forum organised by Standard Chartered, noted that there has been much talk on the issue of foreigners in Singapore, but said that this scrutiny is not unique to Singapore.    

“Every country facing economic slowdown in recession will have elements questioning the balance between locals and foreigners in the job market,” Mr Chan said.    

Singapore will also continue to bring in foreign talent “in a calibrated manner” to create opportunities for Singaporeans, he added.   

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