Singapore Economy's Five Future Challenges

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday (Oct 28) that a key focus of the team set up to chart the country’s economic direction will be the challenge of moving the Singapore economy from one that is “value-adding” to “value-creating”.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door dialogue with business leaders at the Singapore Business Federation, Mr Heng, who will chair The Future Economy committee, framed Singapore’s challenges through the lens of “five futures” – jobs, companies, resources, technology and markets.

On the key challenge of jobs, Mr Heng said “it may not be immediate but if we look at a 10-, 15-year timeframe, the nature of jobs will change".

The second challenge, the “future of companies”, will be marked by competition from overseas and the rise of disruptive business models. This means exploring “cooperative platforms” for different business clusters to cooperate with each other and maximise capabilities, said Mr Heng.

The “future of technology” depends on how Singapore’s investment in education, research and development can be translated into innovative processes, he added.

However, not all innovations are technology-related. The fourth challenge, the “future of resources”, focuses on organising one’s resources like land or staff in creative and competitive ways.

Mr Heng added that the final challenge, “future of markets”, is important because if firms expand abroad, “we transcend the Singapore market, we achieve scale”.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced the formation of this committee earlier in October as Singapore faces a leaner workforce, tapering growth and a weaker global economy.

A measurement of success will be through the opportunities and jobs the team creates for Singaporeans, since a shift to higher skills indirectly addresses productivity issues. 

"Higher skills, higher productivity, higher wages - that is the virtuous circle that we hope to achieve." Mr Heng noted. 

How can The Future Economy committee address these five challenges? Share your views with us!

Source: “Five future challenges for Singapore economy”, (The Straits Times, 29 October 2015).

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