Restructuring 'puts S'pore on growth path'

Restructuring 'puts S'pore on growth path'

Despite significant challenges both at home and abroad, Singapore has grown faster than other developed economies and key Asian peers since the global financial crisis, Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said in Parliament yesterday.

He noted that seven years after the crisis struck, the global recovery remains relatively weak and this lacklustre performance is expected to persist.

Still, the Singapore economy has managed to grow by an average of 4.7 per cent annually since 2007, faster than developed economies like Japan, the United States and the European Union.

Singapore also did better than Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong over the same period, Mr Lim showed in a set of charts during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate.

He was responding to Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who had asked about Singapore's economic outlook amid the tepid global landscape.

Singapore's unemployment rate has remained low, Mr Lim said. It has not exceeded 3 per cent since 2007, even in the depths of the financial crisis.

Salaries are also rising. Median incomes of employed households headed by Singaporeans have gone up by an average of 2.9 per cent yearly, even after adjusting for inflation, since 2007.

These numbers show that efforts to restructure the economy in recent years have put Singapore on the right track towards long-term growth, Mr Lim said.

These efforts are gaining traction among firms that manufacture goods or export services, which have seen strong labour productivity growth, he added.

"We should persevere (in these efforts)... so that we can replicate these improvements in the other sectors, particularly the domestic- oriented sectors."

The minister also outlined plans for the long-term health of Singapore's economy, including efforts to develop new growth areas like advanced manufacturing and schemes to help local enterprises go abroad.

This was after some MPs - such as Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) and Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) - asked how the ministry plans to create jobs for increasingly educated and qualified Singaporeans.

Citing the professional services sector as an example, Mr Lim said Singapore has become a choice location for regional headquarters activities.

Firms such as McKinsey and KPMG have chosen to base their Centres of Excellence here, carrying out research in diverse fields ranging from analytics and growth markets to consumer insights and cyber security.

To equip Singaporeans with the skills to support future growth, the Economic Development Board (EDB) will work with companies to build their training capabilities as part of the SkillsFuture initiative, Mr Lim said.

EDB will support these efforts in seven pilot sectors: logistics, electronics, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals, precision engineering, marine and aerospace.

This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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