The government will test a new business passport for executives in Singapore who are required to regularly travel overseas for official and business purposes.
However, holders of this pass must adhere to a strictly controlled itinerary when traveling abroad for work.
Upon returning to Singapore, travelers will have the option to take a Covid-19 test instead of a Home Notification (SHN) and self-isolate pending test results.
What is considered a "necessary business trip"?
According to Minister Lawrence Wong, the passport enables a traveler to visit "a whole range of countries".
But how do we determine the necessary business trips?
Without a clear definition, there is a risk that people will misuse this business card as it offers a travel opportunity.
We can also foresee that the pass will be oversubscribed, unless there are strict criteria for verifying the travel required.
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Setting stricter criteria and protocols may discourage people from using the pass unless strictly necessary.
Since the government said the number of passports will be strictly limited at the initial stage, it means that the eligibility criteria would be strict.
Role of business travel in pore economy recovery
In May, Minister of Commerce and Industry Chan Chun Sing shared his economic outlook in a Bloomberg interview.
He discussed how reopening Singapore's economy by gradually lifting the “breaker” and working with other countries to set up travel corridors can help it recover.
As a result, Singapore has set up travel corridors with other countries such as Japan and Brunei.
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In any sector, an increase in business levels can have a positive impact on a country's economy.
According to a study using Canada as an example, the level of business travel in a country can be one of the biggest contributors to strong economic performance.
It can create more jobs and help increase gross domestic product (GDP).
Is It Safe to Continue Business Travel?
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However, with no Covid-19 vaccine available yet, traveling is still quite risky. It is estimated that the vaccine won't be available until next year, but the economy may not hold up until then.
This explains why the government wants to introduce the business passport.
According to Minister Wong, there may also be other restrictions on other travel systems, such as bilateral travel arrangements such as the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) that travelers must adhere to.
According to the RGL agreements that Singapore has made with Malaysia, Brunei and Japan, travelers must comply with the requirements set by these countries.
For example, they must undergo Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests before and after arrival and, among other things, adhere to a pre-established controlled itinerary during their visit.
The new business passport being piloted won't replace those restrictions, he said.
As mentioned earlier, upon return, travelers must either take a Covid-19 test instead of a Home Notification (SHN), or self-isolate until the test results are in.
This should be able to ensure that the system works safely and in a calibrated manner.
Selected image source: Reuters
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