The Straits Times says

Rebuilding the economy beyond Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has created something close to a perfect storm in the global economy. The disease and its unfolding mutations have also "infected" the laws of supply and demand that existed before its advent. As an open and globalised economy, Singapore is caught in the cross hairs of this epidemiological disruption to world order. Alerting Singaporeans to the unpalatable realities of these changes, the Emerging Stronger Taskforce report released on Monday identifies key shifts that Covid-19 has caused or accelerated. These relate to increasing tensions among major powers in competitive areas such as technology, finance and trade, the consolidation of industries that produce winners and losers within countries and companies and between individuals, and the reconfiguration of global supply chains and production.

However, there are gains as well. Digital transformation and innovation need to be accelerated as a result - and much is happening already. Changing consumer preferences, apparent in a range of areas from hygiene and health to contactless services and alternative options to physical travel, demonstrate the possibilities for innovation. Ecological sustainability is another crucial field where the climate change challenge should and could be met. All in all, there is a future for Singapore beyond Covid-19, and it is that future which this report focuses attention on.

The report strives to show the way forward by highlighting the spheres in which Singapore can make a significant difference to the world and, by doing so, keep other countries invested in its prospects. Some of these spheres are supply chain digitalisation, ecological sustainability, the relevance of Singapore's own urban transition to the building of the cities of tomorrow, robotics, medical technology, and the use of technological innovation to improve the efficiency and output of agriculture. While these areas are affected by Covid-19, they will not be subverted by the disease because international life will move on. Singapore needs to be a part of that trajectory of change so as to preserve its status as a global city.

One way to that future lies in the partnership between private and public institutions through Alliances for Action (AfAs). The nine AfAs set up cover sectors where resilience needs to be strengthened quickly, those where transformation has to be accelerated, and those which promise new growth. The alliances drive home the need for a sharpened whole-of-country approach to the challenges that Covid-19 has posed. The report suggests concrete and practical ways of building on Singapore's achievements to create a viable basis for its success in the new normal produced by the pandemic. At the heart of the vision lies the need to increase productivity and invest in emerging areas of opportunity quickly.

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