Friday, August 09, 2013

Singapore economy expected to grow 2.5-3.5% this year

Singapore's economic growth forecast for this year is between 2.5 and 3.5 percent.

This is higher than the previous official forecast of between 1 and 3 percent.

In the first half of 2013, Singapore's economy grew by 2 percent.

Revealing the figures in his National Day Message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a world that is changing rapidly and unpredictably, Singapore must reassess its position, review its direction, and refresh strategies to thrive.

Recording his National Day Message at the new Toa Payoh Safra clubhouse, Mr Lee said Singapore has made steady progress in the past year.

Queues for HDB flats have been cleared and Build-To-Order flat prices have stabilised.

In the area of transport, more buses have been added and Singapore is trying out free early-morning MRT rides into the city.

Turning to Singapore's economy, Mr Lee said it is holding steady amidst global uncertainties and Singapore is attracting more quality investments.

Unemployment remains low, but he emphasised that even as Singapore tightened the inflow of foreign workers and immigration, the country must maintain investor confidence and keep Singapore open for business.

Mr Lee said: "The world is changing rapidly and unpredictably. Singapore is changing too. The economy is maturing and our population is ageing. Different groups in society now have more diverse and even conflicting interests. Older Singaporeans worry about healthcare and costs of living. Younger ones aspire to wider education opportunities and more affordable homes. Our road ahead will be different from the road we have travelled."

Mr Lee said the Our Singapore Conversation process has helped people crystallise their aspirations.

He said: "A Singapore which gives its citizens opportunities to succeed and live fulfilling lives. A nation which defines success in many ways, and offers multiple paths to many peaks. A society with safety nets that give people peace of mind. A community where the disadvantaged get help, and those who have done well in turn do more to help others."

The government, said Mr Lee, will set goals and work out plans to realise these aspirations.

The prime minister added that today, Singapore stands tall internationally with many countries admiring it. At the same time, other countries are rapidly progressing and catching up. Mr Lee stressed that Singapore must stay ahead of the competition, and maintain its standing in the world.

To do so, Mr Lee said Singapore must adapt its basic approach to nation building by striking a new balance between the roles of the individual, the community and the state.

Mr Lee added that the government will also play a bigger role to build a fair and just society.

He said: "We will keep avenues to rise wide open to all. We will help those from families with less get off to a good start in life, beginning from pre-school. We will tackle the cost of living, for example healthcare costs, especially for the elderly. We will foster a more equal society, by helping every family afford their own HDB flat, and giving low income workers a better deal through Workfare. In Singapore, everyone will always have a stake in this country, and ample chances to make good in life."

But all this is only possible, Mr Lee said, if Singaporeans are united and not divided by race, social class, or political faction.

He added that Singapore must always have able, honest and committed leaders, who can be trusted to serve Singaporeans, and a good government that thinks and plans ahead, and more importantly feels for the people's concerns and hopes. - Channel News Asia

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