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Private-hire firms to comply with new licensing regime
PUBLISHED ON 06 Aug 2019
Private-hire firms to comply with new licensing regime

Starting from June 2020, operators of street-hail and ride-hailing services — those with at least 800 vehicles on their platform — will be licensed under a new regulatory framework to ensure commuter safety.

Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the Point-to-Point Passenger Transport Industry Bill, Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary said the licensing framework will allow the authorities to track the number of accidents and offences amassed by ride-hail drivers when they fulfil trips for an operator.

Under the framework, licensed operators will also not be allowed to offer exclusive deals that prevent drivers from providing services for other operators. This, Dr Janil noted, makes it difficult for new players to break into the market.

Additionally, the Public Transport Council will have powers to deal with cases of overcharging and fare evasion.

Dr Janil noted that commuters and drivers have benefitted since ride-hailing apps entered the market six years ago. However, he pointed out that these benefits can be “easily lost” if there is inadequate regulatory oversight. 

As such, the new framework is a “necessary piece” in Singapore’s long-term vision for a well-connected and convenient land-transport system, Dr Janil said.

“This will help to facilitate an open market to support the development of responsive point-to-point services, while also providing sufficient regulatory oversight to protect the safety and interests of commuters and drivers,” he added.
 
New agency to consolidate resources across Home Team

The Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) new Science and Technology Agency will be known as HTX, with "X" symbolising the agency's role as a force multiplier.

Announcing this in Parliament, Second Minister for Home Affairs Mrs Josephine Teo said the new statutory board will consolidate scientific and technological resources across the Home Team.

HTX, which will be set up by the end of this year and will build systems and solutions that will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Home Team. For example, the agency will work with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on its New Clearance Concept, which will facilitate self-clearance for visitors without compromising security.

Beyond systems and solutions, Mrs Teo shared that HTX will better enable Home Team departments to adopt a "One Home Team approach" in joint operations. “Having a single agency in the Home Team to develop systems and solutions will ensure coherent technical architecture and interoperability across our many systems.  This will also enable greater synergies to be reaped,” she noted.
 
Reducing waste and tackling illegal waste discharge

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor stressed the need to reduce excessive use of all types of disposables, single-use plastics and promote the use of reusables.

Moving forward, Dr Khor said the National Environment Agency (NEA) will require companies with an annual turnover exceeding $10 million to report information on the packaging they place on the market, and their plans for reducing, reusing or recycling this packaging annually.

Dr Khor also shared that NEA is currently studying recycling solutions and technologies and assessing their suitability for adoption in Singapore. She highlighted that everyone can play their part to reduce packaging waste.

Separately, Dr Khor also highlighted that the Government takes a serious view of illegal discharge of industrial used water into the sewers.  Responding to a question on the number of companies that have been taken to task for such offences, Dr Khor revealed that a total of 119 companies have been prosecuted for illegally discharging liquid waste into sewers since 2014. Of these, she noted that 23 companies have committed the offences more than two times.

"We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against companies that threaten the quality of our water supply," she reiterated.
 
Considerations to extend Bicentennial Experience exhibition

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah said the Singapore Bicentennial Office (SBO) is reviewing the request to extend the Bicentennial Experience exhibition at Fort Canning Centre.

Sharing this update in Parliament on 6 August 2019, Ms Indranee said the SBO has received many such requests since the exhibition opened in June. So far, the exhibition has seen over 300,000 visitors.

“Visitors felt that more Singaporeans and especially the young should enjoy it. Some have even called for the Experience to be made permanent so that visitors to Singapore and new citizens as well as future generations of Singaporeans can be educated on our history," she said.

However, Ms Indranee noted that there are several issues to consider, including additional costs and technical implications of extending the exhibition. "We also need to find the right format if we were to make the Experience permanent, as it was never designed as such," she explained.

The exhibition at Fort Canning Centre currently ends on 15 September.


Top image credit: The Straits Times

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