Despite a poor global economic outlook, Singapore managed to place itself higher than others due to its strengths like its “stable political environment with a competent and united leadership”, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Monday (8 July).
Apart from this, the Republic was also able to stand apart from the rest because of its pro-business environment, such as the rule of law and pro-innovation regulatory environment, its skilled and continuous upgrading workforce, its superior connectivity as well as “a progressive tripartite partnership that enable the Government, business and labour to overcome challenges together”.
“Each attribute enhances our competitiveness. Collectively, they enable Singapore to be much more than the sum of our parts. We must, however, not rest on our laurels. We must extend our lead, by continuing to build on these fundamentals and seizing new opportunities,” said Mr Chan, who highlighted that Singapore had topped the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings in May.
The Minister was responding to six Member of Parliaments (MPs), who asked how the global economic headwinds will impact Singapore, and the country’s response to these risks given that the world’s economic outlook deteriorates.
Mr Chan pointed out that the country’s economic outlook will heavily depend on how the ongoing trade between the US and China takes place and how Singapore’s major export markets perform. He noted that the US-China agreement to start back trade negotiations at the G20 summit in Osaka “is welcome news”, although basic disagreements is still there between both the countries.
Although South-east Asia continues to be “a bright spark” and the US economy is holding up, the Minister stated that China’s economy can worsen due to the ongoing tension. Additionally, Europe needs to also make “a decisive resolution” on Brexit, he said.
“We must weather these immediate challenges. At the same time, we must also navigate more fundamental shifts in the global economy that will shape our medium – to long-term prospects. For instance, ongoing discussion to introduce minimum effective tax rates across countries will affect our competitiveness, and carbon caps will constrain our growth potential,” he explained.
Mr Chan also said that Singapore has adopted a three-pronged strategy for its economic plan – to strengthen its fundamentals, create opportunities by refreshing offerings to business and investors, and to promote a conducive global and regional business environment with like-minded countries and businesses.
“While there are clouds looming, we believe we have the fundamentals to weather the storm. Our economic fundamentals are sound, we are in a strong fiscal position, and we are making good progress in restructuring out economy. The Government also stands to step up our support for companies and workers in sustaining our core capabilities, enhancing our competitiveness to seize new opportunities,” he said.
After reading this news, over 80 comments were received in TODAY’s Facebook page where netizens mocked the Minister by saying that he’s patting his own back and is only giving “airy fairy speech”. Some said that most ministers just repeat the same thing over and over again, and they now have to give the citizens more “concrete actions” that will actually help them. Eric Cheong said that he has lost trust, respect and confidence in “incompetent unqualified leadership” who turned out to be robbing the people and SMEs instead.
Others pointed out that the ministers are not doing anything much apart from receiving high salary with undisclosed bonuses, whereas the people are suffering with their low salary and high cost of living. Charlie Teo pointed out that greedy ministers are continuing to receive “sinful salaries” while people are finding it hard to make ends meet. As such, he said that this is not what working together looks like.