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Singapore economy grew 3.5% in H1; full-year growth seen at 2.5% to 3.5%

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in his National Day Message that growth projections for 2014 will be between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent, narrowing earlier forecasts.

SINGAPORE: Singapore's economy grew 3.5 per cent in the first half of the year, bringing the growth forecast for the rest of the year to between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent. That is narrower than the forecast by the Trade and Industry Ministry in February this year of between 2 and 4 per cent. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this in his National Day Message on Friday (Aug 8) ahead of Singapore's 49th birthday.

In his message delivered from the Alexandra Park Connector, Mr Lee outlined some priorities for the country, including giving Singaporeans greater peace of mind in their retirement years and helping everyone achieve their potential, regardless of their family background or circumstances. Ahead of his National Day Rally, Mr Lee also hinted at several policy changes to come.

In enhancing retirement adequacy, Mr Lee said his team is studying how to make it more convenient for retirees to get cash out of their flats, in a prudent and sustainable way. Currently there is the Lease Buyback Scheme. It is a monetisation option to help low-income elderly households unlock part of their housing equity, and receive a lifelong income stream to supplement their retirement income. Response to the scheme, though, has been somewhat lukewarm, with just over 300 households signing up for it since it was enhanced in February last year.

The Prime Minister will also talk about ways the Central Provident Fund system could be improved at the National Day Rally in a week's time.

"Stronger safety nets are not just to give you peace of mind, but also to build confidence to hope and dare," said Mr Lee. "Our system will help you shoot for the stars. Everyone will have full opportunities to fulfil your potential, regardless of your family background or circumstances."

Mr Lee said education is a big part of achieving this. To that end, a committee tasked with reviewing polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education studies is expected to announce its recommendations to help young Singaporeans acquire the relevant skills, to succeed in a constantly changing, economic environment.

"You are talented, passionate and confident. You deserve to chase your dreams and be the best you can be. The academic route is not the only way up. We will also help you upgrade yourselves while you work. We will help you master specialised skills, and earn advanced qualifications as you progress in your careers," said Mr Lee.

But Mr Lee said this is also a matter of social values: "As Singaporeans, we must judge a person not just by his educational qualifications but also by his skills, contributions and character. This is how we keep Singapore a land of hope and opportunity for all."

He added Singapore will succeed, only if its citizens stand together as one united people. There was a rallying call by the Prime Minister for Singaporeans to come together despite their differences and to uphold the spirit of the Pioneers who built this country. Mr Lee said Singapore has changed, so there also needs to be a reassessment of its position, direction and strategies.

Mr Lee added that even as Singapore has made strong progress since independence, it has not reached its limit. As the country turns 50 next year, Mr Lee observed that many Singaporeans intend to embrace and mark the special occasion in their own ways.

He said it is this collective sense of ownership and belonging, that will take this country forward, in a changing world. 

Read the transcript of the Prime Minister's National Day Message at pmo.gov.sg.