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S'pore 'well-placed to capitalise on Asia's rise'

PMO responds on behalf of government to points made by President in Parliament

Asia is on the ascent and Singapore is well-positioned to capitalise on this rise, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday in a statement on behalf of the government - PHOTO: REUTERS

[SINGAPORE] Asia is on the ascent and Singapore is well-positioned to capitalise on this rise, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday in a statement on behalf of the government.

The statement, called an addenda, was issued in response to points made by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the re-opening of Parliament last Friday, during which he talked about the concept of making Singapore a "nation of opportunities".

"We have an open and business-friendly environment, a high reputation, good governance and strong institutions, well-developed infrastructure and a skilled workforce," the government said.

These very attributes will help Singapore to transform its economy, raise productivity, invest in research and development, and sharpen the country's competitive edge, it said.

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"We aim to keep Singapore a nation of opportunity, where every Singaporean can succeed whatever his starting point, where pathways upwards are open to all, at all stages of life," said the government.

"In a globalised world with keener competition, we must work harder together to create opportunities for all Singaporeans."

A strong economy, too, will create more PMET (professional, managerial, executive and technical) jobs for Singaporeans, the addenda said. Citizens, meanwhile, will be equipped with the skills to take on a wide range of specialist, managerial and leadership roles.

"We will strengthen our continuing education and training system," the government said, adding that it would also develop career pathways as well as improve applied learning tracks and specialist programmes.

The statement went on to stress that all young Singaporeans would be given the chance to maximise their potential through a good education, regardless of their family circumstances or background.

Ministries yesterday began mapping out their respective policies and plans in response to Dr Tan's address. Instead of individual statements as in the past, the responses this time round have been grouped under different themes. These will be announced progressively throughout this week.

The first batch of nine ministries gave details about how they were working to make Singapore a nation of opportunity, which is the first theme.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) shared how it was setting aside over $300 million over the next three years to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their restructuring efforts.

The ministry is also spending $1 billion from the National Productivity Fund on productivity programmes, mainly targeted at SMEs.

"As Singapore embarks on the economic transformation journey, we must raise productivity at all levels," said MTI.

"Our companies need to restructure and build new capabilities to compete effectively in the new operating environment," said the ministry, as it pledged to continue providing support to firms to stay the course in economic restructuring.

As far as jobs are concerned, the ministry expects about 40,000 to 45,000 young Singaporeans to enter the job market each year over the next three years, with two-thirds of them aspiring to hold PMET positions.

The Manpower Ministry said it would enhance job facilitation efforts for all displaced workers, and improve accessibility to training for SMEs and their workers.

It will also, among other plans, study how unions can better represent PME interests and explore access to affordable dispute resolution mechanisms.

In terms of infrastructure, the government will continue to upgrade Singapore's port and airport and enhance the country's connectivity.

"We will maintain our lead as a centre for international financial, legal, and intellectual property services. Our network of trade and economic agreements will link Singapore businesses to opportunities in other growing economies," said the government in its statement.

"Singapore businesses that do well locally and abroad will, in turn, generate better prospects for our people."