Heng Swee Keat chairs first Committee on Future Economy meeting since his stroke, gives updates

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (third from right) and Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (second from right) attend a meeting of the Committee on the Future Economy on Dec 1, 2016.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (third from right) and Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (second from right) attend a meeting of the Committee on the Future Economy on Dec 1, 2016.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/HENG SWEE KEAT

SINGAPORE - Even with economic headwinds ahead, Singapore should remain confident in its ability to overcome challenges, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (Dec 1) after chairing a Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) meeting for the first time since suffering a stroke in May.

The committee is nearing the tail-end of its work, and will release a report on its recommendations in early 2017.

It was set up last October to identify key areas of growth and devise strategies to grow the economy in the long run.

Mr Heng, who is the committee's co-chair along with Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, said that committee members are confident about Singapore's future.

He wrote on Facebook: "The key thing is to work together, build up our capabilities, and keep agile and nimble. This will take work, of course, but this is the right fighting spirit."

Doctors gave Mr Heng the green light to resume light office duties in August, but he is staying away from crowds for now as he regains his immunity.

Thursday's meeting was the committee's fifth and final one, and Mr Heng noted how much the world has changed in the last few months.

The 30-member committee has held more than 80 discussions to date. These include meetings within the committees, and focus group sessions with more than over 1,000 students, educators, parents, union members, business leaders and academics.

Members of the CFE have also taken part in more than 20 panels, seminars and conferences, where they reached out to more than 6,000 people.

Mr Heng said he agreed with members who said that the public, private and people sectors should continue to work together even after the CFE completes its work.

In a separate Facebook post, Mr Iswaran, who chaired CFE meetings in Mr Heng's absence, said even as the committee addresses business and global economic challenges, there must be a clear focus on Singapore's future competitiveness and growth.

The committee has been gathering views and is studying how to continue transforming businesses, boost innovation, and ensure Singaporeans have the right skills to seize future opportunities, he added.