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Productivity growth, industry indicators will show Future Economy Council's progress: Heng

Structural changes needed for Singapore's economy are long term and must persist despite short-term obstacles, he says

Members of the Future Economy Council in their first meeting of the new term at the SingPost Regional eCommerce Logistics Hub on Friday.


PRODUCTIVITY growth and a number of other industry indicators will help reflect how the Future Economy Council's (FEC) progress measures up, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who also chairs the council.

The FEC was established in 2017 to drive the growth and transformation of Singapore's economy for the future. It also oversees the implementation of the recommendations put forth by the Committee on the Future Economy, such as the implementation of Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs). Members include representatives from the government, unions, trade associations and chambers, industry as well as educational and training institutions.

"If you look at the overall productivity growth last year, it was 4.5 per cent, the highest that we have had in seven years. This is a very major change," Mr Heng said.

"We have quite a number of indicators looking at how well our companies are changing and transforming", he added. "We are looking at the health of our corporate sector - what the pace of renewal of the firms is, how well the companies in Singapore are growing. We're looking at the pace of growth of the different industries."

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Headwinds from global markets may pose immediate uncertainty.

He said: "With the trade friction that is happening between the US and China, of course there is the risk that this can escalate further - and if it does, I think our global production will be affected; the global economy will be affected."

But the structural changes that must be made to Singapore's economy are long term, and must persist despite such short-term obstacles, said Mr Heng.

"While we have to think about how best we can navigate these challenges in the short run, we must also focus on how we can transform our economy in the longer run. The march of technology will not stop and the changes that are happening around us in the Asian economies will not stop."

The FEC also unveiled 13 newly appointed members on Friday, expanding the team from 31 to 33.

The 13 new members include National Trades Union Congress secretary-general and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng; Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee; Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah; Accenture Singapore senior managing director Teo Lay Lim; SATS president and chief executive officer Alexander Charles Hungate and global maritime group BW Group chairman Andreas Sohmen-Pao.

Among the new faces, Ms Indranee, Mr Lee and Mr Ng are from Singapore's fourth-generation leadership.

The new members were picked after consultations with economic agencies and consultations.

Mr Heng said: "At the same time, we want to make sure that the members can complement one another, contribute fresh perspective and at the same time, spread the message of transformation.

The new council held its first meeting of the new term at the SingPost Regional eCommerce Logistics Hub on Friday, where they took a tour of the hub's automated logistics and operations facilities.

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