S'pore to spend US$1.2B on infocomm projects

update Government will call for tenders for more than 392 new projects during its current financial year, says regulator Infocomm Development Authority.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--The government plans to call S$1.73 billion (US$1.18 billion) worth of infocomm tenders this financial year.

Speaking at an industry briefing Tuesday, Ronnie Tay, CEO of Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), said FY 2009, which started in April, will see the government calling more than 392 new infocomm projects.

The government invested S$1.6 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 621 infocomm tenders in FY2008, which included the network company (NetCo) for the country's planned next-generation national broadband network (NBN), said Tay.

This financial year, an estimated 40 percent of the tenders will be worth more than S$500,000 (US$342,350) each, he added. These include big projects like the Ministry of Education's (MOE's) Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) for schools project.

This is a separate system from the IDA's 8-year SOEasy project awarded last year, which will be implemented across 74 government agencies.

James Kang, government CIO, IDA, said the remaining 60 percent of the tenders valued at less than S$500,000 (US$342,350) are of smaller scope, and will give SMBs (small and midsize businesses) the opportunity to apply for them.

Kang said the government has for the past four years awarded two-thirds of its infocomm contracts to local companies, with multi-national corporations winning the rest.

Tay said at a media briefing later, there is no preference shown to local companies, but remarked this trend "could be [due to] the local companies growing in capability".

He said the intention to help stimulate the economy did play a part in the government's decision to continue strongly with its procurement plans, but that its main goal is to increase infocomm adoption to meet the growing expectations of businesses and citizens.

Tay touched on some measures the government plans to carry out to help alieviate supplier cashflow difficulties, such as adopting more frequent payment schemes, and lowering fees on additional accounts on local government procurement portal, GeBIZ (Government Electronic Business Partner).

Kang noted that NCS and SCS have consistently ranked within the top three spots as contractors for government projects. On NCS' acquisition of SCS, he said the company still competes in the open market for government jobs, and should not be an anti-competitive presence.

Kang added that the range of projects being called this year are diverse in scope, and will give many contractors an opportunity to participate in procurement calls.

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