Parliament Sitting on 11 May 2021
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
21. Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) in view of the recently passed Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill, whether there will be a gradual move towards complete paperless processes and transactions with businesses and public sector agencies; (b) if so, whether there are plans to incorporate this initiative under the Singapore Green Plan; and (c) whether there are plans to help individuals and businesses who have been left behind in this step towards the digital transformation of businesses.
The Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) facilitates the digitalisation of businesses and Government processes by according legal certainty to electronic transactions. The amendments passed in February support digitalisation by extending the applicability of the ETA to more types of transactions, including electronic transferable records (ETRs), providing greater certainty for domestic and cross-border electronic transactions.
2. Beyond legislation, we have rolled out a suite of measures to support businesses at each stage of their digitalisation journey. In the past year alone, we have supported about 40,000 SMEs in adopting digital solutions under the SMEs Go Digital programme. Over 38,000 businesses are now registered on InvoiceNow, compared to only 1,000 a year ago. More than 2,000 enterprises have also gained access to overseas markets through e-commerce platforms under IMDA’s Grow Digital initiative. IMDA’s TradeTrust, a digital utility that connects Governments and businesses to a neutral and public blockchain, also provides businesses the benefit of seamless and secure transfer of ETRs.
3. For the public sector, as part of the Digital Government Blueprint, we aim for 90-95% of transactions with the Government to be completed digitally from end to end, and we have met this target. This means that most Government transactions are now paperless, cashless and do not require physical presence. However, we recognise that some services will still require a non-digital option, to ensure accessibility.
4. The government is mindful that our digitalisation journey has to be inclusive and bring everyone on board in good time. Digital Ambassadors from IMDA’s SG Digital Office have reached out to equip citizens with basic digital skills and tools, including over 90,000 seniors and 10,000 hawkers to date.
5. Increased adoption of electronic processes and transactions will lead to a reduction in the use of paper documents, as well as the need for physical travel. This supports our push for sustainable development in line with the objectives of the Singapore Green Plan.