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Lee Hsien Loong
World Economy

Singapore Economy on Stable Path

The Singapore economy as a whole is on a steady path and at a stable level, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday at a forum jointly organized by the EDB Society and The Straits Times.
Responding to questions on Singapore’s rate of GDP growth in recent years, Lee said the government was not too anxious or concerned about the situation but would watch the economy closely and carefully to see which way it goes, CNA reported.
 “The 1.8% last year was less than what we hoped for, but more than what we expected,” he said. “This year, we hope the momentum will improve. There’s some chance of that. In the fourth quarter last year, things sped up and if it continues this year, it will be a good thing.”
“If we can make 2 or 3% every year over the next 10 years, we will be doing well,” said Lee. “That’s over the longer term. It means steady improvement in standard of living, income and what the economy can provide for our people.”
“But in the shorter term, we also want to make sure the ups and downs are controlled and the downs are not too down, and if we need to stimulate the economy we can do so. If we need to give it an extra boost, we will.”
Lee was also asked if the unemployment situation was a cause for worry. “My growth rate is constrained by how many people I have,” he noted. “And if I have more workers, more students coming out who are well-trained, well-educated, I can grow faster. That is the constraint rather than ‘I have so many people coming out, where are the jobs to be found’.”
“If you look at foreign worker numbers in Singapore, there are still substantial numbers. Growth has slowed… but jobs are available and quite often employers can’t find suitable Singaporeans so that’s why they bring in foreigners,” added Lee. “But if we can produce Singaporeans with skills, jobs will be there and we will be able to employ them.”
Lee also said that Singaporeans were competitive when it was pointed out that wage levels here were two to three times that of Malaysians, Vietnamese or Thai workers.
“We are more expensive than our neighbors, but overall people find it worthwhile to be in Singapore,” he said. “It’s partly the quality of the individual… but also the quality of the overall business environment in Singapore.”

 

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