PM Lee speaks of sustaining development at Commonwealth meeting

Britain's Prince Charles (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key (left) looks on after the official photograph following the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Govern
Britain's Prince Charles (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key (left) looks on after the official photograph following the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, on Nov 15, 2013. Singapore has sought to pursue sustainable development, and this means avoiding profligate spending and not entrenching state welfare, Mr Lee on Saturday. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE has sought to pursue sustainable development, and this means avoiding profligate spending and not entrenching state welfare, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, Mr Lee told his counterparts that it is right for governments to shield their people from the uncertainties and inequalities of the globalised world.

But such "noble intentions" have, in many countries, translated into state welfare which has failed to solve the problems of unemployment and a lack of competitiveness.

Rather, the result has been growing debt as governments spend beyond their means, he said.

Mr Lee laid out the three principles that guides Singapore in its approach to sustainable development:

The first is to live within its means, so as not to indebt the next generation.

The second is to pursue development strategies that sustain growth over the long-term, rather than those that provide a "transient, false sense of well-being through deficit spending, asset bubbles or depleting natural resources."

The third is to protect the environment.

At the biennial summit, whose theme this year is "Growth with Equity," Mr Lee emphasised that economic growth must always be the first imperative for all countries, as "without growth, we will have no resources to help the poor or achieve any higher aspirations."

But if its fruits are not spread widely among the population, resulting in better jobs and lives for all, there will be no political consensus to pursue growth, he said.

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments