Committee to review Singapore economy to be set up by December and report year later : Heng Swee Keat

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is chairing the Future Economy Committee, said that it would be formed by December and submit a report a year after that.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is chairing the Future Economy Committee, said that it would be formed by December and submit a report a year after that. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The team that will set the strategy for Singapore's economic future will be formed by early December and will submit its report a year later, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (Oct 28).

The task of the Future Economy Committee, chaired by Mr Heng, is to help Singapore "move up the innovation ladder" from a "value-adding" economy to a "value-creating" one, and the team will measure its success by the opportunities and jobs it creates for Singaporeans, he added.

This is in contrast to the hard annual productivity growth targets set out by the last economic review committee in 2010.

"The essence (of the new strategy) is moving towards higher skills and that addresses productivity issues quite well... higher skills, higher productivity, higher wages - that is the virtuous cycle that we hope to achieve," Mr Heng told reporters after a closed-door dialogue with business leaders at the Singapore Business Federation.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran will be the deputy chairman of the new committee, said Mr Heng. Together, they are selecting other members from a shortlist. The members will be announced by early December.

"I want to take some time to do this... I hope that this steering committee will have members who can bring fresh perspectives, who come from diverse backgrounds," Mr Heng said.

He encouraged the committee to set strategy from a "fresh angle", and set the tone by framing Singapore's challenges through the lens of the "five futures" - the future of jobs, the future of companies, the future of resources, the future of technology and the future of markets.

"It may not be immediate but if we look at a 10,15 year time frame, the nature of jobs will change," Mr Heng said.

"How do we build sckills and redesign jobs so that workers can be at their best and that talent can be maximised?"

Meanwhile, the future of companies is the rise of disruptive business models and competition from abroad, said Mr Heng, so staying competitive means exploring "cooperative platforms" across entire clusters of companies in order to maximise capabilities.

And while Singapore has invested in a deep knowledge base, the future of technology hinges on how this can be translated into innovative processes, said Mr Heng.

But not all innovations are tech-related, and the future of resources is about good business organisation and how to organise your resources in very creative and very competitive ways, he said.

Finally, the future of markets is important because "if we transcend the Singapore market, we achieve scale", added Mr Heng.

"I hope that through the work of this committee we can catalyse a broad and deep discussion on these issues," said Mr Heng.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe