SINGAPORE: Regardless of international developments, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the importance of always working together domestically as “Team Singapore” on Monday (Apr 30).
This is so that workers are taken care of, and Singapore is ready for “any opportunities or shocks that come our way", he wrote in his May Day message, even as he expressed caution about the global trade environment.
Singapore made the most of favourable global conditions last year, with the economy growing 3.6 per cent, a good result for a developed economy, he said.
“Our workers are hardworking and agile, and our businesses are resourceful and adaptable,” Mr Lee added, with productivity growth last year the highest in seven years.
More and higher-paying jobs were also created. This, he said, was the result of a “collective effort” that has paid off.
Singapore can look forward to healthy economic growth this year if it “maintains the momentum”, but this will depend on how the external environment shapes up, the prime minister said.
He added that prospects for the global economy have been clouded by recent trade tensions between the United States and China.
“We are watching developments with concern because trade is our lifeblood,” Mr Lee said. “A trade war would damage the international trading system that has sustained global economic growth for decades.”
Singapore is making progress transforming its industries and sectors, "making them more productive and efficient”, he said, adding that all 23 Industry Transformation Maps have been launched, and the tripartite partners are working to turn these plans into actions and programmes that make a “meaningful difference” to companies and workers.
Mr Lee noted that while the Government provides support and incentives to employers and workers to upgrade and transform, employers and workers must do their part too.
“We are fortunate to have a strong Labour Movement fully committed to support our workers, protect their interests and fulfil their aspirations,” he said.
He also described the Labour Movement under the leadership of Mr Chan Chun Sing, as having “grown in strength”. It has also, he said, extended its outreach to freelancers, the self-employed, migrant workers and professionals.
After three years in the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Mr Chan will move on to head the Ministry of Trade and Industry as part of the recently announced Cabinet reshuffle.
“The Labour Movement will be a pillar of strength as we brave the challenges and storms, working together to build a dynamic and prosperous Singapore,” said Mr Lee.