Three elements to boost Singapore’s economic transformation
PUBLISHED ON 19 Apr 2018
To position Singapore as the “global Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise”, the country will have to make efforts in three different areas, said Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat.

In an interview with the media on 18 April 2018, Mr Heng added this is also next critical step in Singapore’s economic transformation plans. He noted that the advances in technology will have an impact on many sectors and this will spur innovation.

Firstly, innovation will need to be made pervasive, as this is a key aspect of transforming the economy. On this, Mr Heng said efforts are underway, such as continued investments in research and development (R&D) and the introduction of the Maritime Transformation Programme.
Secondly, deep capabilities will need to be developed in homegrown firms and workers. And thirdly, forging strong partnerships within Singapore and around the world.

As part of the next phase of economic transformation, Mr Heng also shared that the Government has begun grouping the 23 key industries with Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) into six clusters. This move will allow authorities to best see how to maximise the synergy within each cluster as well as across the clusters.

Each of the six clusters are chaired by a minister and with a representative from the private sector or union. The six clusters are: manufacturing, built environment, trade and connectivity, essential domestic services, and modern services and lifestyle.

Reflecting on the ITMS, Mr Heng said it has achieved good progress. “Our enterprises and workers all understand the importance of economic transformation and appreciate the changes happening around us,” he added.

Mr Heng also shared that Singapore’s foreign manpower policies will remain for now to encourage companies to transform. "Our priority in the coming years must be to continue to develop Singaporeans. At the same time, a well-calibrated inflow of foreign manpower can complement our people," he added.

When asked about the Future Economy Council’s (FEC) efforts in transforming Singapore’s economy, Mr Heng shared that productivity growth has risen over the past two years and there are signs that the transformation efforts are paying off. However, Mr Heng noted that progress in the implementation of plans has been uneven across sectors. This is due to the numbers, sizes and the levels of sophistication across companies in the sectors.

Mr Heng added that Singapore’s economic transformation is an ongoing journey with no end point.

“We have gone through successive waves of changes because the global economy is changing by the day, technological advances are happening all the time… If internally, we can stay cohesive (and) build on the strong partnership that we’ve had over the years and continue to deepen that, then I think we can ride these waves of changes smoothly,” he said.