Retain values that have served us well: Heng Swee Keat

S'pore should also reinforce its strengths as a choice business location, he says at IIM event

People walking outside Raffles Place MRT station in the central business district area. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Striving for economic growth creates more opportunities for all Singaporeans and allows the country to maintain its fair and just society, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said last night.

Mr Heng also noted that even amid economic transformation and innovation, Singaporeans should retain the values that have served them well and promise continued success.

The minister told the gala dinner of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) global alumni event at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre that Singaporeans hold values like integrity, resilience and a strong work ethic close to their hearts. "These values together mean we are a people of our word, a people who will get things done. And our institutions are clean and transparent," he said.

Singapore should reinforce its strengths as a choice location for businesses where local firms flourish and international companies are keen to invest.

But more importantly, Mr Heng said, the country must not lose sight of the fundamental reason for driving innovation, creating jobs and investing in skills, which is to create opportunities for all Singaporeans. "It is only in an environment where people feel they have hope and opportunity that they will be motivated to stay, to contribute, to work hard, to innovate and create more opportunities for themselves and others," he said.

Mr Heng said building a culture where people partner each other can amplify the impact socially and economically.

"Whether as individuals, businesses or as nations, our impact is multiplied when we look for ways to partner others, here and with friends abroad, to bring our strengths together and collaborate to build the future we imagine for ourselves," he said.

Mr Heng gave two examples from the recent Budget of how the community and businesses are encouraged to partner each other.

One is the Community Network for Seniors, comprising a team of full-time officers to coordinate the efforts of voluntary welfare organisations, community volunteers, schools and businesses. This will ensure that the most vulnerable will be better taken care of.

Another is a $30 million fund to support the trade associations and chambers to build their capabilities and lead the development of industry-wide solutions.

"By working together, our companies can become more competitive globally," Mr Heng said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline Retain values that have served us well: Heng Swee Keat. Subscribe