ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Committee on the Future Economy's work critical to Singapore's next lap of growth: DPM Teo
SINGAPORE: The work of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is a critical aspect of Singapore's next lap of growth. Acting Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said this comes against the backdrop of serious challenges the country is facing, which includes a population and workforce that is no longer growing.
Singapore's citizen labour force growth will start to plateau from 2020 and Mr Teo said this will be a "major challenge" to the economy, but there are also opportunities, if Singapore gets its strategies right.
"On the other hand the skill level of our people is increasing and can be increased further," said Mr Teo. "There are many opportunities to be exploited - what kinds of economic sectors, what kinds of economic activity; how do we link up with the growing areas of the world and sectors in which we have competitive advantage."
Member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry Foo Mee Har said an important area to focus on is Corporate Capabilities and Innovation, which she described as a key part of Singapore's restructuring efforts and attempts to raise productivity.
"I hope the CFE recommendations would take learnings from the past, consolidate existing programmes and launch breakthrough initiatives and unique business models that will give Singapore true global competitive and comparative advantage," she added.
This is one area the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises will focus on in 2016. It hopes to help SMEs build up capabilities to expand overseas.
President of the association Kurt Wee said: "We are looking to co-develop or lead an initiative where we would train more and more PMEs to be able to have a sense of how it is like to be a business unit manager for a regional role. There are companies with very strong operational personnel and the jobs need to grow and at the same time, the bosses need to expand their businesses regionally."
This is not the first time that Singapore is having an economic strategies committee. In 2001, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong created the Economic Review Committee to promote economic growth. Eight years later in 2009, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commissioned the Economic Strategies Committee to brainstorm new and creative ways to sustain long-term growth for the country."
One economist noted that this time round, the new committee is also looking at quality of life for Singaporeans. Under the urban development and infrastructure terms of reference, members are tasked with looking at sustainable urban spaces to create an outstanding living environment.
"Going forward, it will be about inclusive growth," said CIMB Group Private Banking director Song Seng Wun: "Are Singaporeans happy in a place that is not the cheapest to live and work in? How do we use space, urban development, infrastructure to ensure that all these things are seamlessly connected? It won't just be about bread and butter on the table, but about being happy, living and working in Singapore."
Observers have also said that the committee's work going forward is especially important, given the slower pace of growth expected in 2016.
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