Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned that Singapore must brace itself to handle a possible downturn in the midst of the current global scenario: the United States – the world’s largest economy – was soft, Europe was in a stagnant state and China was experiencing a slowdown of its own.
Gross domestic product expanded just 1.4 per cent year on year in the three months ended September, slowing from 2 per cent growth in the June quarter.
“Skills become obsolete faster than before. New jobs come in but they take time, and to learn new skills takes time. For workers to change jobs and industries, fit into a new niche and become productive again, and earn the same as before but hopefully more, it’s not always so easy, especially for older workers.”
The way forward for the Republic must be to “ride the wave” and use the power of free markets to its advantage.
“We know our direction, (which is) to improve productivity so that we can sustain higher wages for all. But we need to review specific measures – how to help our domestic sectors grow, how to attract investments and help companies develop new markets, and how to make best use of the foreign workers and talent that we need in Singapore,” he said.
The prime minister also spent time talking about Singapore’s unique tripartism model, a “relationship of trust” among the three parties that has been built up over decades.
“Over the last 50 years, we’ve nurtured a special model of tripartism that enabled our people to excel, our businesses to grow, and our nation to thrive. It’s been a major ingredient of our success and it comes down to having good (tripartite) leaders.”