The Singapore economy expanded by 0.7 per cent in 2019, the lowest ever in a decade. It comes as no surprise then that 2020 kicked off with companies and workers alike being more muted in their optimism, preferring to navigate carefully amidst the uncertain economic climate.
It was therefore heartening to hear PM Lee's New Year message, aimed at bolstering sentiment and rallying the ground. There were even hints on what we can expect at the Budget 2020.
The first Parliament sitting also tackled issues like foreign workers, job creation and US-China trade wars and laid out plans for Singapore in 2020.
So what's in store for companies and workers? We distil it for you.
WHAT'S IN STORE FOR COMPANIES?
Support for businesses to raise productivity in Budget 2020
In PM Lee's New Year message, he gave a clue as to what companies can expect from Budget 2020 and that is supporting businesses to raise productivity and build new capabilities. This was also re-iterated by Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament that the government would be helping companies to internationalise.
Companies and businesses to pursue new growth opportunities
New industry niches are being developed by the Future Economy Council and Industry Transformation Maps. Companies need to stay on the ball and discover new growth opportunities.
Minister Chan cited the digital economy as a "major" opportunity for Singapore as digitalisation enables small countries to transcend size and geography. So will we see more unicorn tech companies coming from Singapore in 2020?
Companies to continue to help groom Singaporeans
Minister Chan asked companies and businesses to be responsible employers, to train and groom Singaporeans and grow the economy alongside workers.
WHAT'S IN STORE FOR WORKERS?
Heavy investment into programmes such as SkillsFuture, Adapt & Grow and the Professional Conversion Programme
Upskilling and continued education is the new way of life.
Workers need to constantly be aware that their industry can be disrupted and must take the onus upon themselves to develop skillsets that make them employable.
Reassurance that it's Singaporeans-first
From the Fair Consideration Framework to various phrases like "This Government puts Singaporeans at the heart of everything we do" and "This Government will always have your backs", it's quite clear that emphasis is being placed on grooming and training up Singaporeans.
More improvements in healthcare, transport, housing and the education system
In terms of bread and butter issues that affect the daily lives of workers, PM Lee pointed out the steady progress that has been made and will continue to be made in the areas of healthcare, transport, housing, education system.
Bring it on, 2020!
This article was first published in Singapore Business Owners.