Source: Cassandra Chew, http://www.straitstimes.com
SCE makes inroads for S'pore
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Laos' treasury, tax and customs systems.
Coordinating this capacity-building effort is a little-known agency called
the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE).
It was set up in 2006 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the
Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) to share Singapore's governance
expertise with other countries.
Within two years, the not-for-profit outfit has handled more than 80 projects in over
20 countries from Libya to Russia, while also bringing in about US$40 million
(S$59 million) into the Singaporean economy.
SCE has, among other projects, advised Bhutan on setting up e-government services,
helped China with water treatment solutions, and overhauled the public finance system in Qatar.
Each month, it receives about 10 foreign government delegations which come here to seek
Singaporean public sector expertise, usually in infrastructure development, masterplanning or water treatment.
Operating out of a 3,000-sq ft office at Great World City West Tower,
SCE's staff of 19, mostly former civil servants, tap on the respective expertise of
15 ministries and over 60 statutory boards, as well as that of retired top civil servants.
These include former Housing Board chief executive Liu Thai Ker, 70, who in January
last year offered masterplanning advice on a Saudi Arabian township project,
and former Institute of Public Administration and Management director David Ma, 63,
who in June wrote a public service research paper for Kazakhstan.
Chief executive Alphonsus Chia, 49, formerly deputy chief executive of International Enterprise
(IE) Singapore, said SCE is currently funded by an undisclosed grant from MFA and MTI,
meant to last until it becomes self-sustainable, hopefully 'in a few years' time'.
Its average billings for projects are between US$1 million (S$1.5 million) and 'tens of millions
of dollars'. But SCE sees its main mission as 'opening doors for fresh partnership opportunities
in new countries', not the bottomline, said Mr Chia.
'We want to trade with them, get to know them better, demystify these countries for our own companies,
and look at how these countries can do business in Singapore,' he said.
A case in point is SCE's strong partnership with Rwanda, which has led to plenty of repeat business.
The central African country's interest in the Singapore model was sparked when its officials attended
the World Bank-IMF meetings here in 2006. In 2007, it engaged SCE to bring in award-winning
Changi Airports International to improve its airport operations. That led to four more projects.
Earlier this year, SCE also helped set up the Rwanda Workforce Development Agency,
which offers vocational training programmes, modelled on Singapore's Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
It also helped overhaul Rwanda's social security scheme, modelling it on the Central Provident Fund here,
and arranged for the training of 20 Rwandan officials at the Singapore Civil Service College International here.Source: Cassandra Chew, http://www.straitstimes.com
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