SINGAPORE: When asked on Wednesday (Apr 18) whether he would be changing portfolios in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Heng Swee Keat remained tight-lipped but said he would be “very happy” to continue helming the Finance Ministry.
Speaking to reporters at a media briefing about the progress of Singapore’s economic transformation, the Finance Minister was asked about the odds of a change in his portfolio given that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said earlier this year that a Cabinet reshuffle would be due after Parliament prorogues to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibility.
To that, Mr Heng replied: “I’ll be very happy to continue my job as finance minister. There are many things that we need to do as I announced in the Budget.”
One of which is the country's “important expenditure needs” that need to be provided for, he said.
Budget 2018 highlighted the country’s spending needs, such as in healthcare and infrastructure, and a planned increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) sometime from 2021 to 2025 was announced as a way to finance the growing expenditure.
“We want to be able to make the best use of our resources to achieve our economic and social impact, and at the same time, maintain a high level of security,” Mr Heng said, while adding that the allocation of the Government’s budget across these various areas is a "major challenge" in the coming years that he "would like to give more thought to".
A core member of the fourth-generation leadership, Mr Heng is seen as one of the three top contenders for the post of the next prime minister.
He joined politics in 2011 and achieved the rare feat of becoming a full minister immediately after being elected as a new Member of Parliament.
Mr Heng was the Education Minister from May 2011 to September 2015, before being appointed as Finance Minister in October 2015.
Prior to entering politics, he was the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry and principal private secretary to then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew from 1997 to 2000.