Kwek Hian Chuan Henry
COS Cut for MOF
1. We have announced immediate and future tax increase to deliver on our promise to take care of our seniors, create an excellent home for Singaporeans, and create a bright future for future generations.
2. However, before we ask for more tax dollars from our people, we have a responsibility to tax-payers to ensure that we have done our best to remain prudent and ensure Value-For-Money in government expenditures.
3. Can the government share on what internal systems and controls will help us achieve this? Can the government also share concrete examples of how savings have been achieved? ¬
4. Having said that, it is important that in our drive for economy, we do not automatically go for the lowest bid in public tender, at the sacrifice of quality and long-term cost control. It is also important that we do not pass the cost unnecessarily to the private sector and our people.
5. Can the government also share how can we best manage this important balance between economy and quality?
We have put in place various systems and controls to ensure that our monies are spent effectively:
a. First, the Block Budget Framework sets a spending limit for Ministries. Within the budget given to them, each agency optimises its spending and channels resources to worthwhile programmes.
i. The 2% reduction to the budget cap announced at the last Budget, and reduction to the annual growth of the block budgets announced recently by the Finance Minister will further encourage fiscal discipline among government agencies.
ii. We have the Budget Utilisation Framework which encourages Ministries to budget as closely as possible to their expenditure needs. This is to ensure that they do not set aside more than they require, and as a result deprive other meritorious needs of funding. But I would assure Ms Foo Mee Har that Ministries do not spend for the sake of meeting the budget during the end of the year. If there is under-utilisation of the budget due to reasons which are beyond the Ministries’ control, there would not be reductions to their future budgets.
iii. We also have mechanisms to give Ministries budgeting flexibility, so they can roll over part of the savings from the operating budget to the next financial year. On top of all this, we conduct regular reviews of Ministries’ budgets to make sure that they continue to be right-sized and ensure that every Ministry uses its allocated resources efficiently and effectively.
b. Second, for large infrastructure projects, we have the Gateway Process – this is something that we have shared in this House. It is a rigorous multi-stage process that scrutinises the requirements, the scope and design of the projects at key milestones before funding approval is given. This process includes reviews not just by senior public officers, but by academics and industry practitioners where necessary, especially practitioners with deep technical expertise.
c. Third, MOF works with agencies to conduct Value-For-Money Reviews to assess if our programmes are achieving their intended outcomes in a cost-effective manner. These best practices, guidelines and case studies from the reviews are shared across the Public Service. d. Fourth, the performance of key programmes are published by the ministries for their respective areas. These performance indicators are also consolidated and reported in the Annual Revenue and Expenditure Estimates and in the Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review, which is published once every two years.