The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the establishment of a Payments Council, comprising 20 leaders from banks, payment service providers, businesses, and trade associations. Members are appointed for a two-year term. The full list of members is provided below this article.
E-payments is one of the selected focus areas under the Singapore government’s accelerated Smart Nation programme. The Payments Council is part of a series of initiatives by MAS towards realising the vision of an e-payments society in Singapore. This includes facilitating the development of seamless payments solutions like PayNow, supporting the introduction and rollout of unified point-of-sale terminals at merchants, and introducing new payments legislation to safeguard consumer interests and facilitate innovative payment solutions.
The Payments Council aims to formally bring together both the providers and users of payment services in Singapore. It is expected to encourage collaboration within the payments industry, promote interoperability among e-payments solutions, develop strategies to drive the pervasive adoption of e-payments, and advise and make recommendations to MAS on payments related policies.
Though earlier a broader scope was considered for the Council, MAS has discarded several of those ideas based on industry feedback and the Council will provide a purely advisory role to MAS on payments related issues.
Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS will chair the Council. Mr. Menon said, “We have many good e-payment solutions in Singapore. We need to make them more inter-operable and better integrate them with individual and business use cases so that more people will adopt e-payments. The Payments Council brings together the various parties that can help achieve this. Our mission is to make e-payments simple, seamless, and secure for all Singaporeans.”
Feedback on scope and mandate
MAS proposed to set up a Payments Council with a mandate to foster innovation, competition and collaboration in the payments industry and conducted consultation with the industry from August 25, 2016 till October 31, 2016, regarding a) Governance and stakeholder engagement; b) Coordination and implementation; c) Research and surveillance; and d) Advisory, policy and enforcement.
MAS considered the feedback ( summary of responses available here) carefully, and has incorporated specific suggestions into the scope and mandate of the proposed Payments Council. For example, based on the feedback, the Council will no longer undertake project management, or take up any of the roles of the Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA) or act as a single point of contact for public feedback and complaints.
Some of the key issues raised were as below:
A few respondents raised concerns that undertaking project management activities would be a costly endeavour due to the additional funding and resources required. MAS agreed that the objectives of the Payments Council should be to facilitate stakeholder engagement, promote collaboration and coordination, and provide an advisory role to MAS on payments related issues. The Payments Council will not undertake and implement projects. But it may be called upon to facilitate strategic payments projects and initiatives.
Division of roles between MAS and Payments Council
Many respondents expressed concerns about the Payments Council’s role in governance and enforcement, and sought clarity on the division of roles between the Payments Council and MAS, which has a mandate over payment system supervision and oversight. Several respondents suggested that the Payments Council would serve best in an advisory role instead of functioning as a regulatory body. Objectives related to governance, regulation and policy-making will continue to reside with MAS.
Assuming Responsibilities of SCHA
MAS proposed that the Payments Council could assume SCHA’s current role as one of its activities. The majority of respondents commented that this could lead to conflict of interest and confidentiality. The Council Members could be vendors appointed by SCHA to manage and operate payment systems. Potential confidentiality issues related to contracts could also arise from this.
MAS agreed and the Payment Council will not be empowered to establish and enforce by-laws and rules and regulations of payment systems, nor will it be empowered to appoint vendors for payment systems. However, in order to improve coordination between the Payments Council and SCHA, the Chairman of the SCHA will be invited to join the Payments Council as an ex-officio member.
Role of Council as Single Point of Contact
Most respondents disagreed with the proposal for the Payments Council to function as a single point of contact for public feedback and complaints, and many pointed out that existing channels (via MAS, MoneySense, the Association of Banks and Consumers Association of Singapore) are already in place for such engagements. Furthermore, as a multiparty body, it would be challenging for the Council to route the feedback to the right parties.
MAS agreed that complaints and feedback at an institutional level should remain with the relevant organisation.
Proposed Membership Structure and Representation
Most respondents agreed that the Payments Council ought to be represented by members from the supply and demand side and agreed with the proposed composition. They also agreed that representation from each member should be at a CEO or senior management level.
Some respondents requested for clarification on Payments Council representation and selection criteria, and highlighted that membership ought to be limited to prevent the Council from becoming too large and unwieldy. A few respondents also cited concerns that the inclusion of demand and government members might hinder the progress of discussion due to a lack of familiarity with the payments industry.
MAS will invite members that can best represent their relevant community. From the supply side, MAS will draw representation from local and foreign banks, as well non-bank payment service providers. In order to reflect the views of the diverse demand side users, MAS will invite businesses, trade associations and chambers of commerce.
MAS’ Role as Chair in the Payments Council
Most respondents agreed that MAS’ role as chair of the Payments Council would best serve the purpose of driving initiatives aligned to Singapore’s long term payments vision. A few respondents were concerned that the Payments Council would be too heavily influenced by a public body, which could possibly hinder the mandate to promote innovation. These respondents preferred an independent party to chair the Payments Council.
MAS responded that it has long supported and promoted a culture of innovation in the financial sector and understands this to be critical in developing an open and efficient payments industry. MAS believes its role as chair in the Payments Council will balance public and private interests, and will continue to encourage innovation as long, as it does not run counter to the safety and soundness of the ecosystem. MAS will invite FinTech players to join the Council as members, as well as share the latest innovations and developments with the Payments Council.
Composition of payments council
Chairman– Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS; Banks– Amol Gupte, Head of ASEAN (Citi Country Officer), Singapore, Citibank; Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS Bank Ltd.; Samuel Tsien, CEO, OCBC Bank Ltd.; Judy Hsu, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Ltd.; Wee Ee Cheong,CEO, United Overseas Bank Ltd.; Payment service providers– Deborah Heng, General Manager (Singapore), Mastercard; Jeffrey Goh, CEO, NETS Pte Ltd.; Rohan Mahadevan, APAC CEO, PayPal Pte Ltd.; Ooi Huey Tyng, Country Manager (Singapore and Brunei), Visa Worldwide Pte Ltd; Businesses– Anthony Tan, Group CEO, Grab; Alexis Lanternier, CEO, Lazada Singapore; Nick Nash, Group President, Sea Pte Ltd.; Lim Hock Chee, CEO, Sheng Siong Group Ltd.; Robert Yap, Executive Chairman, YCH Group; Trade associations– Kurt Wee, President, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises; Yeo Hiang Meng, President, Federation of Merchant Associations; Vincent Tan, President, Restaurant Association of Singapore; Ho Meng Kit, CEO, Singapore Business Federation; R Dhinakaran, President, Singapore Retailers Association; Ng Nam Sin, Chairman, SCHA
SINGAPORE – February 2, 2023 – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has collaborated with National Geographic CreativeWorks to unveil UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, a campaign that showcases Singapore as a travel destination from the perspective of intrepid photographers from Southeast Asia. Through photography, the campaign includes a virtual exhibition which encourages travellers to explore the city-state’s cultural diversity and hidden spots, by taking a moment to observe the unseen beauty of destination Singapore.
Running from 2 February 2023, UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will showcase a collection of photographic works through a virtual exhibition, captured and curated by six photographers from across Southeast Asia. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE features the works of:
- Amani Azlin from Malaysia
- Tino Renato from Indonesia
- Chanipol Kusolcharttum, better known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
- Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
- Gab Mejia from the Philippines
- Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
In curating the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE collection, each photographer visited Singapore in mid-2022, covering areas in Singapore that showcase nature, heritage buildings, cultural sites, and art. Each presented their vision of an UNSEEN/SINGAPORE through ways that resonate with their passions and personal experiences.
The photographers ventured across Singapore, going beyond its famous attractions and iconic skyline, to discover spots equally captivating – from charming neighbourhoods to lush and thriving offshore wetlands and a lighthouse at the island’s edge.
“We aim to inspire travellers to Singapore to rediscover the joy of travel once again. One way is to portray our destination in a different light, by helping visitors to see it afresh through another person’s eyes. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE set out to do this, through the lens of talented photographers from Southeast Asia, who tell their journey of discovery through photography. We hope they will inspire a new wave of visitors to discover a Singapore reimagined,” said Mr John Conceicao, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, STB.
“If you want to experience a country, you have to go down a layer below into the more local stuff to get a feel of what the country is. For people who’ve already visited Singapore, they should try and look for some of the unorthodox locations which they probably missed in their previous visits because
there’s a lot more to Singapore with the culture and heritage,” shared Jayaprakash Bojan, a full-time photographer and documentary filmmaker who advocates conservation via visuals and participated in the campaign.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE is part of STB’s efforts to boost travel recovery through SingapoReimagine, a tourism campaign that highlights new, innovative and unexpected experiences in Singapore to audiences worldwide.
Between January to December 2022, Singapore recorded 6.3 million international visitor arrivals. Visitor arrivals were driven by strong demand from Singapore’s key source markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
Get to know the photographers
Amani Azlin from Malaysia
Amani is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who expresses her passion for minimalism through her work for various local brands. When Amani is taking pictures, she goes in with her camera and doesn’t give it too much thought. It’s all about taking pictures in the moment and only scrutinising them afterwards. For her, it’s about capturing candid, unscripted moments in daily life, even when she’s travelling in a different country. As the only female photographer in the group, she offers a fresh take on travelling to must-visit sites with her passion for slow travel rather than touch-and-go experiences.
Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
Jayaprakash Bojan was National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017. He is a nature-wildlife conservation artist whose work focuses on wildlife photography abroad. As someone who has lived in Singapore for around 7 years, the pandemic has pushed him to explore his own neighbourhood (particularly Pasir Ris Park) rather than places abroad. With this project, Jayaprakash rediscovers his home, Singapore, from a different perspective.
Tino Renato from Indonesia
A self-taught travel, food, portrait and still life photographer, Tino started his journey when he was younger, starting out with a film camera, and it remains his favourite medium for taking his pictures. For him, it’s all about capturing the raw moments of a place and its people and making them the focus of his pictures. It is what makes his photos appear simple while adding depth to the story as we can witness in the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE project.
Chanipol Kusolcharttum, also known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
After a few years of working as an air steward and travelling the world, Rockkhound decided to pursue and kickstart his passion for photography as a career, enabling him to continue exploring the world. The photographer-cinematographer from Bangkok started his photography journey about 10 years ago on Instagram while embracing the philosophy of slowing down to truly live in the moment and enjoy the scenery all around him when he is out and about. His style is to deliver motion and emotion, such as looking for an interesting composition to give some movement to still architecture in Singapore. He runs a production company in Bangkok, holds workshops and shares photo and filmmaking tips on his YouTube channel.
Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
Tùng enjoys the photographic process – from scouting a location to finding new angles and setting up his shots, no matter how long it takes. The Hanoi-based photographer focuses on taking photos from angles people rarely consider, and constantly learning ways to improve his photography. Even though he has visited Singapore many times before, this project gave him the opportunity to appreciate and capture Singapore’s nature and people differently.
Gab Mejia from the Philippines
Gab is a National Geographic explorer and is passionate about wildlife photography and conservation. In 2021, he was awarded the World Wildlife Fund For Nature International President’s Youth Award and was also listed on the 2021 Forbes Under 30 List for The Arts in Asia for photography. His story started when his dad took him mountain climbing, sparking his interest in the natural world and the stories he could discover and capture behind it. His vision for this project is to show a different side of Singapore, capturing moments of the wild and pockets of nature.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will be open to the public on www.nationalgeographic.com/unseensingapore from 2 February 2023 inviting visitors to reimagine Singapore. The virtual exhibition will showcase each photographer’s ‘room’ based on their thematic-led collections. Viewers will be able to virtually visit many parts of Singapore including locations such as the Sim Kwong Ho shophouses, Pulau Ubin, Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, Jurong Lake Gardens, Changi Chapel and Museum, and more.
To view the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE virtual exhibition, visit
To watch behind-the-scenes of UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, visit www.facebook.com/VisitSingaporeMY.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics carried out the Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) Programme to educate regional leaders and managers of commercial firms. The course seeks to improve the digital leadership capabilities of governors, regents, mayors, and business leaders. The government offers 500 training scholarships to public and commercial sector digital leaders.
This year, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ Human Resources Research and Development Agency cooperates with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Human Resources Development Agency to organise the training.
“We will conduct training and visits for 20 regional heads in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we have already decided on Korea,” told Hary Budiarto, Head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Research and Development, at the Press Conference of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Digital Talent Provision Programme in Central Jakarta.
Hary noted that the DLA programme’s training and visitation in 2022 had been fully completed for 20 regional head participants, with Singapore serving as the destination country. The initiative will introduce another 20 regional heads in 2023, with the Ministry of Home Affairs determining the regional head qualifications. The chosen region will be picked based on various criteria, such as districts and cities with low inflation or high digital community indexes, among many others.
Last year, the ministry cooperated with the BPSDM West Java Province to host a Smart Digital Leader for the West Java Champion course. They have agreed with the Regional Secretary to choose the theme of Dignified North Sumatran Smart Digital Leader for North Sumatra, which will be completed in March.
Apart from the public sector, the DLA programme collaborates with the business sector, including the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) and a U.S. tech company focusing on digital infrastructure. The event will have 200 attendees.
The DLA programme is one of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ digital training programmes meant to address the needs of national digital talent. President Joko Widodo has declared this programme a priority to advance the country’s digital transformation.
According to Abdullah Azwar Anas, Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), digital leadership has become crucial in today’s increasingly connected society. He mentioned that leadership would become one of the options for success in managing foundations and organisations. In terms of digital leadership, it is expected that a public leader is more responsive and technologically literate to capture messages from the public and guide the organisation in the proper direction.
Digital skills are also required to assist the government in implementing an Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE). The SPBE architecture is intended to facilitate thematic bureaucratic reforms, such as the RB eradicating poverty, the RB raising investment, and the RB accelerating the President’s genuine priorities. He emphasised five talents required for digital governance. Digital leadership skills, digital professional skills, digital socio-emotional skills, digital user skills, and 21st-century skills in society are among them.
Furthermore, when it comes to digital leadership, leaders must possess two digital talents: hard and soft skills. Mastery of public sector theory and methodology on hard skills such as organisational theory, public sector human resource management, and public policy analysis, he stated, needs to be revised. As a minor subject, it requires help for mastery of theory and methods from other disciplines, particularly competence in digital technology.
Meanwhile, leaders must have analytical skills to analyse critically and propose problem-solving ideas. A leader must also be proficient in public speaking, English, coding, creativity, dispute resolution and negotiation, and teamwork.
Two tech companies operating under Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab have rolled out solutions that are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution I – Heritage Conservation Platform
The company under the Lab has proposed a comprehensive solution for heritage conservation that encompasses data capture, 3D modelling, and online visualisation of realistically rendered models. It supports a variety of capturing sensors and raw data types, including camera images, LiDAR point clouds, and RGB-D data, and can be used with stationary, handheld, robotic, or UAV platforms. With high-precision modelling, realistic texturing and rendering, and a lightweight web-based visualisation platform, this solution is ideal for archiving, exhibiting, renovating, and educational purposes.
The solution was designed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Education, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Tourism.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Mixed Reality as well as Virtual Reality.
In Hong Kong, there are 132 declared monuments and over 1000 historic buildings with significant heritage value. To safeguard and preserve this archaeological and architectural heritage, a comprehensive 3D surveying record is essential for future preservation and monitoring against potential damage or destruction.
Currently, LiDAR scanning and image records are widely used for digital preservation, but the disorganized data and large size make them difficult to use and constructing 3D models from raw scanning data is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The company has developed a cutting-edge AI-assisted algorithm that can accurately convert raw captured data into 3D models at a cost-effective price. The structured 3D models have the advantage of low data volume, ease of access, and meaningful information for engineers. The solution offered is modular and covers the entire process from data collection to 3D model generation and online visualization, offering great flexibility.
To raise public awareness, promote participation, and enhance cultural tourism, the company provides a realistically rendered 3D model and a lightweight, web-browser-based visualization that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.
Solution II – LifeOnline: Smart Personal Emergency System for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers face various dangers on a regular basis. LifeOnline is a tool that keeps officers, especially those working alone in remote areas, connected with their team. In emergency situations, officers can seek help from their supervisor by pressing an SOS button on their smartphone. If they encounter danger, such as falling from a height or a medical emergency, the smartwatch will notify their team.
Using long-range wireless communication technology, LoraWAN, officers can stay connected even in remote areas covered by the government’s GWIN IOT network. If necessary, portable LoraWAN gateways and concentrators can further extend network coverage. The compact size of the smartwatch allows it to be used as standard equipment for law enforcement officers in their daily operations.
The solution was designed to be applied across the areas of Health as well as Law and Security.
The solution employs the latest in Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Mobile Technologies.
The officers are connected with their teams and could get help in dangerous and emergency situations.
Market merchants in Quezon City, Philippines, can now apply for and book spaces and booths online using the Market One-Stop Shop platform (MOSS). According to City Administrator Michael Alimurung, the portal would identify “legal” vendor spaces free of impediments. It is also part of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s ambition of making the city a desirable business location.
With the new system, the city government promises a smooth application process for renting a stall, including payment and collection of market rentals. This will also make the city treasurer’s office’s job easier because they will no longer have to collect rent in person.
To ensure that the new system is widely adopted, the local administration put free Wi-Fi connection points in barangay halls and hundreds of other public venues. A caravan will be launched to assist existing and prospective vendors in registering with the platform.
“Imagine treating the entire city as a public market. This method allows us to locate vendor locations online. It’s thinking broader by allowing us to treat the entire city in terms of how to assist our vendors,” Alimurung told at a press conference at Quezon City Hall.
Margarita Santos, director of the Quezon City Business Permits and Licensing Office, stated that the system would not replace any positions, such as market masters or market managers, but would make their tasks easier.
She stated that the MOSS would use a “first in, first out” queuing system and offer a five-year contract to the first vendor that applied for the space or stand. However, if they cannot satisfy the requirements within a specific number of days, they will be returned to the bottom of the queue,” Santos noted.
Market inspectors will check IDs supplied to registered merchants to guarantee that the correct renters occupy registered booths. Currently, over 12,000 sellers occupy public market stalls in the city. Those are our objectives. In addition, we want to incorporate 43 private markets.
According to Santos, the MOSS would also assist in eliminating red tape and corruption, such as those who reserve marketplaces and then rent them out to other merchants. Because this is an online system, we have a digital trail that allows us to see where the application took too long, who is at fault and admonish them.
Santos added that the system would also record vendor transgressions, which might result in losing their registration area or stall. She stated that registered vendors would be queued online once these areas are full until free space becomes available.
Procopio Lipana, Programmes and Projects Officer, stated that the site would make it easier for the city government and other law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend unlawful sellers. Quezon City has an anti-hawker division and market inspectors who verify stall sizes and look for illicit merchants.
Indonesia is also working to improve digitisation in the conventional sector. Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade has targeted digitising 1,000 traditional markets and one million MSMEs as part of its digital transformation strategy. There are now 2,047 traditional markets that use local market websites through the Trade Facility Information System (TFIS), ten traditional markets that use digital marketing, and 51 conventional markets that operate QRIS for non-cash transactions.
According to Vice Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga, 326 traditional markets in 42 sub-districts have implemented e-retribution, 106,702 local traders, and 9.7 million MSME dealers have made non-cash transactions through QRIS.
The government of Indonesia’s digitalisation efforts have helped the country attain IDR980 trillion (US$ 63 billion), or 5.7% of GDP, by 2021. Indonesia’s GDP is predicted to reach IDR24 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) in 2030, with the digital economy accounting for 18% of GDP, or approximately IDR4,531 trillion (US$ 290 million).
Indonesia’s Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) worked with five ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, to provide cross-border payment through QR. In a series of events at the G20 Bali Summit, the five ASEAN countries agreed on Regional Payment Digital Connectivity. The collaboration will make the Indonesian Standard Quick Response Code (QRIS) more widely available in five ASEAN countries.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics welcomed the discussion. Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) asserted that the ministry supports efforts to integrate payment systems through QRIS ASEAN.
“Because it is related to the digital economy, Kominfo is very supportive; we will provide the infrastructure. For example, we are also putting together an internet network,” said Usman on the sidelines of Jakarta’s 2023 ASEAN Indonesia Chair Kick-Off event.
The five countries’ central banks have held discussions on various occasions to implement cross-border payment system connectivity in the region. Bank Indonesia began payment system connectivity cooperation with other central banks in the area, initially with five countries in the region.
The agreement will be documented as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the same time, this initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s regional leadership in implementing the G20 agreement.
Regional Payment Digital Connection among 5 ASEAN Countries, according to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo, is a physical representation of how digital connectivity in ASEAN is an example for other countries to help economic recovery in each country regionally.
“Wherever we go in these five ASEAN countries, we can utilise QR payment, QRIS in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, and it will be a rapid payment system, instantly,” Perry explained.
Meanwhile, according to Esther Sri Astuti Soeryaningrum from an economic and finance NGO, the introduction of QRIS will aid financial integration in ASEAN. At the same time, there are still some hurdles to tackle. However, she mentioned that QRIS, as a non-cash transaction method, can help collaborating countries make cross-border payments easier without needing a money changer.
“With QRIS, we don’t have to worry about converting rupiah currency for other currencies, and we don’t have to do cash transactions, which are riskier and require a higher level of security,” she explained.
Moreover, the Indonesia Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) expanded its payment cooperation network with Japan in December. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (NK) addressing QR-based payment by BI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Dody B. Waluyo, Deputy Governor of BI, stated that the partnership on QR-based payment between BI and METI Japan would be a key concern for regulatory authorities and industry, given that the NK in question has the potential to strengthen economic relations between Indonesia and Japan.
The QR-based payment collaboration aims to accelerate cooperation on the implementation and interoperability of cross-border or country payments using QR codes, specifically the QR Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) and the Japan Unified QR Code (JPQR). Furthermore, this collaboration will create a framework that permits QR-based payments between the two countries and other parties, such as payment system operators (SP).
The agreement marks the beginning of BI and METI Japan’s collaboration to carry out various activities related to the interconnectivity of QR-based payment systems, such as policy dialogue, technical cooperation, and the formation of working groups to ensure goals are met, such as efforts to implement QR-based cross-border payments to support people-to-people transactions in both countries. This collaboration is expected to promote payment system digitisation in both Indonesia and Japan.
HKUST and ASTRI announced that they will be partnering to establish an initial Joint PhD programme through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU was signed by HKUST’s Provost and ASTRI’s Chief Executive Officer at HKUST’s campus in the presence of HKUST’s President and ASTRI’s Board of Directors Chairman.
As per the MoU, HKUST and ASTRI will jointly screen and select eligible candidates who will work as full-time R&D staff at ASTRI while pursuing a part-time PhD degree at HKUST. The selected candidates will have the chance to participate in leading-edge research projects that encompass artificial intelligence, big data, wireless communications, smart city, and advanced materials. Additionally, they will also be involved in R&D projects related to their PhD studies. Experienced R&D staff members from ASTRI may be appointed as HKUST’s adjunct professors and serve as co-supervisors for the PhD students.
With the backing of the nation, the Hong Kong government emphasised the significance of advancing innovation and technology (I&T) in the “2022 Policy Address.” The “I&T Development Blueprint” created by the government in December outlines a comprehensive plan for Hong Kong’s I&T growth in the next 5 to 10 years, including strategies such as improving the I&T environment and expanding the pool of I&T talent.
The Joint PhD programme aims to contribute to these efforts by fostering talent who can turn their research into commercial success while gaining the necessary knowledge and credentials to prepare for their careers.
The Chairman of the ASTRI Board of Directors stated that as Hong Kong’s top R&D organisation, ASTRI is dedicated to supporting the government’s initiatives outlined in the “I&T Development Blueprint” and “Competing for Talents” plans.
The first launch of the Joint PhD Programme with HKUST is anticipated to draw and retain talented individuals in I&T who want to pursue PhD studies or research in Hong Kong, thereby providing a strong pool of I&T talent to help make Hong Kong a smart city and a global hub for I&T.
The President of HKUST stated that the University is committed to its mission of promoting knowledge through education and research. With its strong foundation in basic research and partnerships with various industrial partners, including ASTRI, HKUST is well-positioned to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research.
This will not only enhance Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem, cultivate top-notch talent for Hong Kong, the nation, and beyond, but also enable the commercialisation of HKUST’s research results for the benefit of society.
The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that bringing research and development results to fruition is a central objective of ASTRI. To maintain close ties with the academic community, the Memorandum of Understanding with HKUST was signed to foster joint R&D and technology commercialisation in February 2022, followed by this Joint PhD Programme a year later. The programme is expected to will effectively sharpen students’ creativity, critical thinking, and global perspective, enhancing their competitiveness on a global scale and hastening the implementation of HKUST’s R&D breakthroughs.
HKUST’s Provost expressed excitement about the joint PhD programme with ASTRI, stating that it is crucial to talent development for Hong Kong’s growth into an international innovation and technology hub.
The programme will use the strengths of both organisations to provide specialists with opportunities to acquire skills and qualifications while conducting R&D projects. The programme is expected to enhance Hong Kong’s talent development and expand its talent pool.
Senator Win Gatchalian advocated that the online filing of tax returns includes overseas Filipino workers so they can meet their obligations while away from the country. In addition, non-residents and those working abroad will find it easier to pay real estate and estate taxes, among other things, thanks to the online payment system.
According to BIR data, internet payment has increased tax payment participation. Tax returns are expected to rise dramatically in 2020 to approximately 94% of total tax returns filed electronically, up from only 43% in 2015. As a result, abroad and non-resident tax subjects should be accommodated through the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Electronic Filing and Payment System (BIR).
“If we want to enhance our efficiency in tax collection, we need to make it easy for our people to pay their taxes. “We need to fix our system and provide better options for our taxpayers to increase tax compliance,” Gatchalian stated.
Gatchalian’s Senate Bill 1346, or the Ease of Paying Tax, incorporates the proposal, which proposes administrative tax changes by altering several parts of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
Apart from allowing taxpayers to file their returns and pay their taxes electronically, the measure also intends to enable taxpayers to pay their taxes at any authorised agent bank (AAB) rather than simply AABs in the revenue district office where the taxpayer is registered.
According to the World Bank 2020 study, the Philippines ranks 95th in paying taxes, 120th in registering property, and 171st out of 190 nations in terms of beginning a business. As a result, the House of Representatives asks the government to react to the industry’s changing needs by establishing programmes and solutions to transition to a digital economy.
Senate Bill No. 1574, also known as the “Act Institutionalising E-Governance in the Government,” mandates that all government agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including local government units, disclose all essential information via traditional and internet channels. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be the primary agency in charge of executing the Act’s requirements.
It sought to build the Integrated Government Network as the master plan and principal way of sharing and transmitting resources, information, and data among government departments through digital and electronic platforms. The regulation also required establishing and maintaining a “GovMail” network for all communications, information dissemination, and exchange.
Vietnam is making similar efforts to avoid tax losses. They tighten management and strengthen control of e-commerce activities to uncover infractions and potential tax liabilities associated. The E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will collaborate with departments from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Finance to share data and better regulate commercial activities on social media and in cyberspace.
Following plans approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade, the E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will continue to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Market Management Agency, the Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and MIC to inspect and monitor e-commerce businesses for compliance with the law.
In December, the General Department of Taxation (GDT) launched its e-commerce information portal and enabled electronic billing from cash registers. The portal serves three purposes: it assists e-commerce platforms in information supply and tax declaration on behalf of individuals, and it helps individuals file tax declarations.
According to the GDT, the tax sector reduced administrative procedures from 304 in 2021 to 234 in 2021 and finished integrating and providing online public services on the National Public Service Portal, saving time and money in tax administrative operations.