Timely point for S'pore to reshape economy: Ng Chee Meng

Kindergarten children from the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC giving a group hug to NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, at the Pasir Ris-Punggol Inter-Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade 2019 yester
Kindergarten children from the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC giving a group hug to NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, at the Pasir Ris-Punggol Inter-Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade 2019 yesterday.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

NTUC chief urges firms, workers to seize opportunities offered by disruptive tech to transform

The recent slowdown in Singapore's growth gives the Republic the impetus to further its efforts in restructuring its economy, said labour chief Ng Chee Meng yesterday.

Noting that second-quarter growth came in at just 0.1 per cent over that of a year ago and there are strong headwinds coming, he urged companies and workers to seize the opportunities offered by disruptive technologies, and transform themselves to stay competitive.

"For our companies, we must continue to transform so that we can attain Industry 4.0 standards," said Mr Ng at an inter-racial and religious harmony street parade in Punggol Field Road.

"We must make use of, explore and exploit new technologies to move up the value chain, so that we can remain competitive."

Flash estimates by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on July 12 showed the economy grew 0.1 per cent year on year in the second quarter - the slowest since the second quarter of 2009.

In a report in The Sunday Times yesterday, MTI said Singapore's full-year economic forecast could be cut again in view of the weak second-quarter performance and headwinds in the global economy.

Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, also noted that workers must redouble their efforts to learn new skills which can help them move up in their careers and keep up with the times.

MOVING UP THE VALUE CHAIN

We must make use of, explore and exploit new technologies to move up the value chain, so that we can remain competitive.

MR NG CHEE MENG, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and NTUC secretary-general.

One way to start, he said, is for individuals to use their SkillsFuture credits to learn about the digital economy. These credits are given to every adult Singaporean to be used for lifelong learning.

Mr Ng also emphasised that the Government and NTUC stand ready to support companies and workers through this transformation.

Mr Ng's comments follow those of three other Cabinet ministers earlier this month, including Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

They said a full-year recession is not expected for now, and there will be help for workers and businesses to cope with challenges.

At the event yesterday, involving over 10,000 residents and attended by fellow MPs of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, including Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, Mr Ng also stressed the importance of everyone doing their part to maintain Singapore's religious harmony.

 

Citing attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which targeted worshippers, he said Singaporeans should not take the current situation for granted. "We should always do our part to ensure that we build towards an even more inclusive society," he added, noting that Singapore, too, suffered racial riots in the 1950s and 1960s.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2019, with the headline 'Timely point for S'pore to reshape economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe