Committee on the Future Economy report

CFE distinct from earlier committees

The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is the fourth economic review committee in 30 years, and was convened in January last year to come up with strategies for Singapore's economic growth over the next 10 years.

Unlike earlier committees, it was not formed in response to an economic recession.

As Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who co-chairs the committee with Trade and Industry (Industry) Minister S. Iswaran, put it yesterday: "CFE was not started because there were some major events...

"It is our effort to position ourselves for the medium term to always look ahead of the changes that are happening and see what we can do and what we can do differently in order to adjust to those changes."

The work of the CFE, coming at a time when Singapore's economy is growing between 1 per cent and 2 per cent, sets out "the direction and the broad strategy rather than a detailed road map", Mr Heng said.

The 30-member committee held more than 80 focus group sessions, panel discussions, seminars and conferences.

It reached out to more than 9,000 stakeholders, including trade associations and chambers of commerce, public agencies, unions, companies, executives, workers, academics, educators and students.

 

After more than a year of discussions and deliberations, it produced a 109-page report that laid out a vision of what Singapore can be if the Government, businesses and workers team up to face challenges and seize opportunities.

The committee recommended seven broad strategies, from improving Singapore's global connectivity to helping workers deepen their skills and boosting innovation in home- grown companies.

This builds on the work of the previous committees: The 1986 Economic Committee, the 2001 Economic Review Committee (ERC) and the 2009 Economic Strategies Committee (ESC).

The first committee was formed after Singapore was hit by a recession in 1985. The ERC came shortly after the 2001 dot.com bust and just before the 2002 Sars outbreak, while the ESC was a response to the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2009.

The focus of the past three committees was on immediate measures to lift the economy out of recession, even as they kept an eye on the future.

"In every phase of our development, from Third World to First, we have progressed by building on our existing strengths, growing new capabilities and shifting away from activities that were no longer viable," the CFE said in its report.

Tham Yuen-C

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'CFE distinct from earlier committees'. Print Edition | Subscribe