Updated: 05/30/2014 00:38

Baey Yam Keng suggests setting-up of special behavioural unit

Baey Yam Keng suggests setting-up of special behavioural unit

MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng has urged the government to set up a special unit, similar to the United Kingdom's Behavioural Insights Team, to apply academic research in behavioural science and economics to public policy and services. 

Speaking in Parliament today, he says the insights of such a team will contribute to better policies and communication. 

For example, the team in the UK, also known as the "nudge" unit, is responsible for encouraging people to make better choices for themselves, and considering how behavioural science can be used in policy making and delivery.
Nudging people to make decisions is, he says, far better than imposing fines. 

And the limitations of financial penalties and incentives should be acknowledged. 

" We still joke about Singapore being a fine city. The sad thing is, despite decades of imposing fines on littering, we are no closer to reaching the standards of cleanliness of Taiwan, Switzerland or Japan. On the other hand, financial incentives have not given us more baby Singaporeans."

Mr Baey added that there is also room for improvement in how the government structures policies and measures, and in making these easily understood by the people. 

He cited the Pioneer Generation Package as an example. 

"The intent of PGP has been widely lauded and it is evident that much thought and effort had been invested in its formulation to ensure its viability and coverage. My elderly residents, like pioneers all over Singapore, are very appreciative that their contributions are being acknowledged in this tangible way. However, it did not take long before the feeling of confusion cast its shadow over their initial elation. A nationwide survey tells us that people are not very clear about PGP's benefits."

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