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Jessica Tan, Population

S'pore 'cannot expect that growth will just happen'

Published on Feb 6, 2013 8:04 AM
Ms Tan stressed that growth was what brought good jobs to Singapore. -- PHOTO: TV SCREENGRAB

While it is important to mitigate any negative impacts of economic growth, Singapore cannot take for granted that growth will just happen, East Coast GRC MP Jessica Tan said yesterday.

Laying down a strong defence of the White Paper on Population, she used the example of a business to make the case that Singapore cannot ignore growth. A successful business, she said, must balance costs and growth.

"If we all just focus on cost... (in the) short term, it will solve problems but there will come a time when it's not going to be enough, then you're going to need to grow. And if we don't invest early to grow, we're not going to be able to catch up," she said.

She stressed that growth was what brought good jobs to Singapore. She said: "We talk about making sure Singapore has quality jobs. Where are those jobs going to come from without growth?"

She was speaking towards the end of the session that saw WP parliamentarians put forward a plan that called for a gross domestic product growth rate that is about 0.5 to 1 per cent lower than that projected in the White Paper.

The WP also proposed that the foreign workforce growth be kept at zero for the next few years, assuming the resident labour force participation rate can be raised by 1 per cent annually.

But Ms Tan expressed concern at this and its impact on Singaporean businesses already strapped for workers.

She said: "Every week I make appeals for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get workers, because they provide jobs for us. Do I tell the SME (boss) who comes and sees me, a father of three or four children and who employs 10 Singaporeans that, sorry, I don't have people for you?"