Panel being set up to chart future of economy

PHOTO: The Straits Times

A new committee will be set up to look at how Singapore can continue creating opportunities and help workers and businesses adapt amid a weaker global economy and a leaner workforce.

The committee on "The Future Economy" will be chaired by new Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as he outlined the challenges facing his new Government at its swearing-in at the Istana last night.

The committee comes alongside a new exhibition titled "The Future of Us" that will open at Gardens by the Bay in December and explore what Singapore in the future could be like.

Exhibition themes will include the future of lifelong learning, a greener city, volunteerism and how technology can transform the way people live and work.

Focused discussions around these themes will also be held to explore ideas on how the Government and people can build Singapore's future together.

The exhibition is the last major SG50 event, said Mr Lee, who hoped it would "launch us into the next chapter of our Singapore Story".

He invited all Singaporeans to actively take part in these programmes, saying the Government welcomed all views and would engage widely as every voice counts.

"I also urge Singaporeans to go beyond making suggestions or discussing ideas or critiquing policies," he added. "Commit to what you believe in, roll up your sleeves, get involved, and come together to make things happen."

Mr Lee said the Government was planning ahead as Singaporeans expected their leaders to do so.

He also pledged to live up to the trust voters had placed in his team at the Sept 11 General Election, when about 70 per cent of voters chose the People's Action Party to form the Government.

He asked citizens to have the same belief in their country, saying: "Singapore is special not just because of what we have achieved today, but also because of what we can look forward to tomorrow."

"Singaporeans are not defined by the accolades we receive, but by our constant striving to always do better, whatever the circumstances," he added.

Speaking before Mr Lee, President Tony Tan Keng Yam noted that Singapore has continued to find strength in growing diversity, and the Government sought to engage citizens in shaping the future.

But much remains to be done, he said, noting that the world economy has hit a rough patch and at home, Singapore faces challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking workforce.

"If we fail to address these challenges robustly, our economy will falter, lose its vibrancy and we will find it harder to improve the lives of our people," Dr Tan added.

He presided over the ceremony to swear in what he called a "bold, strong and forward-looking" Cabinet with experience and new faces.

Thirty-one office bearers, starting with PM Lee, took their oaths, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, during the one-hour ceremony at the Istana's State Room.

Mr Lee said the new Cabinet aims to provide the most effective government to tackle complex challenges, and prepare the next team to take over. "We are not done building Singapore, and we will never be done," he said. "The Singapore Story belongs to all of us. If we have faith that Singapore will endure and thrive, and put our heart and soul into building Singapore, then we will prevail, and secure our place in history."

This article was first published on October 2, 2015.
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