The government is set to trial a new business travel pass for senior executives in Singapore who need to travel overseas regularly for official and business purposes.
However, holders of this pass will be required to abide by a strict controlled itinerary when they travel abroad for work.
Upon returning to Singapore, the travellers will be given the option of doing a Covid-19 test in lieu of a stay-home notice (SHN) and self-isolate until the test results are out.
What’s Considered “Necessary Business Travel”?
According to Minister Lawrence Wong, the travel pass will allow a traveller to visit “quite a wide range of countries”.
But how do we determine necessary business travel?
Without a clear definition, there is a risk that people may misuse this business pass as it presents an opportunity to travel.
We can also foresee that the pass will be oversubscribed unless there is a strict criteria to screen necessary travel.
Establishing a stricter criteria and protocol may deter people from applying the pass unless absolutely necessary.
Since the government said the number of passes will be strictly limited in the initial phase, this implies that the eligibility criteria would be tight.
Role Of Business Travel In The Recovery Of S’pore Economy
In May, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing shared his outlook for the economy in a Bloomberg interview.
He discussed how the reopening of Singapore’s economy from the gradual lifting of the ‘circuit breaker’ and working with other countries to establish travel corridors can aid in its recovery.
In any sector, an uptick in business levels can have a positive impact on a country’s economy.
According to a study which uses Canada as an example, the level of business travel in a country can be one of the biggest contributing factors to strong economic performance.
It can create more jobs and help to increase gross domestic product (GDP).
Is It Safe To Resume Business Travel?
However, as there is still no Covid-19 vaccine available, travel is still quite risky. It is estimated that the vaccine will only be available next year but the economy may not be able to hold on till then.
This explains why the government wants to launch the business travel pass.
According to Minister Wong, there may also be other restrictions under other travel schemes, such as bilateral travel arrangements like the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) schemes, that travellers have to adhere to.
Under the RGL arrangements that Singapore has with Malaysia, Brunei and Japan, travellers must adhere to requirements set forward by these countries.
For example, they must undergo pre-departure and post-arrival Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests, and abide by a pre-declared controlled itinerary during their visit, among other requirements.
The new business travel pass being piloted will not supersede these restrictions, he said.
As mentioned, upon their return, travellers have to do either a Covid-19 test in lieu of a stay-home notice (SHN) or self-isolate until the test results are out.
This should be able to ensure that the scheme will operate in a safe and calibrated manner.
Featured Image Credit: Reuters