If managing economic growth can be likened to managing a portfolio of investments, then Singapore's IT sector is a blue chip "that no portfolio can be without". Mr Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman of the Competition Commission of Singapore, made this comparison in his keynote address on "Innovation, Competitiveness And Government" at the recent Regional Innovation Forum 2008.
|Mr Lam: IT has been a strong sector from the innovation and growth points of view.
The IT sector in Singapore has been a strong sector from the innovation and growth points of view, noted Mr Lam, who is also former Chairman of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). In promoting its growth, the IDA has taken the approach of allowing the market to lead, to encourage foreign investment as well as developing local talent and companies under a strong and robust legal regime and rule of law.
"The key underlying principle is to encourage companies to be more efficient and competitive in the global market place," he said.
He cited the liberalisation of telecom sector as a "remarkable example" of how a competitive environment helps lower costs to many businesses. "The influx of more players and more competition results in more choices and lower prices and thus brought about a net gain to the economy as a whole."
In his speech, Mr Lam outlined the four major roles that the Singapore Government has played in the promotion of the IT sector - as a user; a provider of education and manpower training; a supporter and facilitator of industry development; and a standards setter facilitating inter-operability.
Evaluating the success of these measures in promoting the health of the IT sector in Singapore, Mr Lam pointed to recent country rankings from a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In terms of Human Capital and Support for IT industry development, Singapore occupies 2nd and 3rd position out of 20 countries ranked. Singapore has also done well in terms of the Legal Environment, with its score of 81 just a narrow margin of 11 points behind that of the top ranked country, the United States.
However, he noted that Singapore fared less well in infrastructure and R&D. In infrastructure, for example, Singapore ranked below the median in 12th place.
Despite these relative weaknesses, Mr Lam remained optimistic. "We ranked high on the EIU analysis and most other international rankings on most counts except in some aspects of infrastructure and R&D," he said. "We can say that Singapore is quite at the forefront in the IT sector and that government's efforts in facilitation and support have been a positive factor."
For the full text of Mr Lam Chuan Leong’s speech, click here.