Does Singapore need a Ministry of Energy?

The New Paper ponders on whether Singapore needs a new Ministry of Energy to tackle energy issues more holistically and ensure our future energy security. The article says that “energy security lies in a muddy middle zone” and “there’s no one body fully in charge”. It also suggests some ideas on what a Ministry of Energy can do, such as:

  • Buy our own oil field
  • Buy overseas farms to grow food
  • A law to set a minimum temperature in Singapore offices
  • Forge closer relations with oil-producing countries

The government’s energy policies on energy conservation, energy efficiency, energy market regulation and energy industry are pursued by the different relevant ministries and agencies. This is understandable as energy issues are often complex and cut across different sectors and industries.

Nevertheless, the government recognises the need to have an integrated approach to dealing with energy and has outlined six strategies in the National Energy Policy Report. One of the strategies is to develop whole-of-government approach to energy policy which is led by the Energy Policy Group (EPG). The EPG consists of representatives from the:

  • Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI);
  • Ministry of Finance (MOF);
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA);
  • Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR);
  • Ministry of Transport (MOT);
  • Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR);
  • Building and Construction Authority (BCA);
  • Economic Development Board (EDB);
  • Energy Market Authority (EMA);
  • Land Transport Authority (LTA); and
  • National Environment Agency (NEA)

The EPG has four working groups on Economic Competitiveness, Energy Security, Climate Change and the Environment, and Energy Industry Development, headed by the different agencies shown in the diagram below:

 

So, do we need a Ministry of Energy? On paper, it seems that there is no need for one as the energy policies are managed and coordinated by the EPG. But on the ground, the administrative difficulties and layers of bureaucratic red tape accumulated across 11 ministries and agencies in the EPG might pose a problem to the effectiveness and timeliness of the energy policies. We think that it might be better to have a Ministry of Energy which is accountable and focused, to ensure energy security and tackle the threat of climate change.

Source: The New Paper; National Energy Policy Report. Image credit: National Energy Policy Report.

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