Growth the way to a better life

Growth the way to a better life

Mr Donald Low's article ("Has 'global city' vision reached its end date?"; last Wednesday) recommends that the Government shift from prioritising growth to prioritising well-being. This is invidious.

The Government's vision has always been to advance the well-being of Singaporeans. It was never about turning Singapore into a global city for its own sake. Growth is not the end but the means to achieve well-being.

We pursue economic growth because we must have the financial resources to raise our families, build communities, defend ourselves and fund the policies needed to build a fair and just society.

But growth needs equity. We do not, and should not, pursue growth for growth's sake. We should recognise that unfettered growth leads to widening inequality.

Hence, redistributive policies are necessary to spread the benefits of our progress and alleviate the negative outcomes of a free market economy.

The Government will strengthen those policies, particularly in housing, education and health. This will help us to stay together as a nation, and build a fair and just society for ourselves and our children.

Mr Low's argument is however, incomplete. Equity needs growth.

With growth, the lives of Singaporeans have been uplifted. We have funded policies that helped Singaporeans meet their aspirations, to build their homes in Singapore. Without growth, equity will be illusory.

We focused on economic growth as the livelihoods of Singaporeans depended on it. But we were also focused on spending less than we earn, and on providing for the future.

Today, the interest income from our savings makes up a significant part of our budget. Our reserves enabled us to implement the Jobs Credit Scheme, which saved thousands of Singaporean jobs during the financial crisis. If we did not grow, we could not have saved. We all want our children to have better lives than ours.

In an increasingly competitive and changing world, our children will benefit from a strong and stable economic platform to meet their aspirations and raise their own families in Singapore. Let us leave them a saving cushion, not a debt burden.

Growth is not the Holy Grail for Singapore, and never has been. Growth to build a better life for all Singaporeans - that has always been the goal of this Government.

Hri Kumar Nair

The writer is an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC


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