$13b secured to create thousands of jobs: Chan Chun Sing

Investment commitments in first 4 months of 2020 reflect investors' confidence in Singapore, he says

The $13 billion attracted reflects the confidence major investors and businesses have in Singapore's economy.
The $13 billion attracted reflects the confidence major investors and businesses have in Singapore's economy.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A total of $13 billion in investment commitments has been secured by Singapore in the first four months of this year - among the highest in recent years. This will create thousands of jobs in areas such as electronics, energy and chemicals.

Among the companies that have made investment commitments are tech firm Micron, which intends to add 1,500 jobs here over the next few years, and ExxonMobil, which is expanding its refining and petrochemical complex.

The amount secured by the Economic Development Board (EDB) is higher than the yearly amounts secured from 2013 to 2018, and exceeds the $8 billion to $10 billion initially projected for the whole of this year. EDB secured $15.2 billion last year.

Announcing the figures at a press briefing yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing also outlined a road map for how the Government intends to generate investments and jobs to manage the fallout of the pandemic, with the economy forecast to shrink by as much as 7 per cent.

The steps to be taken range from helping companies hire ahead of demand, to initiating projects to encourage innovation.

He said: "Now that we have gotten a grip on the infection curve, the next few months' priority is to flatten the unemployment and recession curves."

The minister noted that unemployment here had risen to 3 per cent - a rate that is "much better" than initially feared.

However, Singapore cannot afford to be complacent. Mr Chan said: "If we can't get back to the pre-Covid world, and we can't get to the post-Covid world quickly, then chances are that we will have to learn to live and make a living in the Covid world."

He said the $13 billion attracted by EDB reflects the confidence investors and businesses have in Singapore's economy.

Asked what incentives were given to woo the companies, he said what is far more important are factors such as Singapore's skills, trade policies and connectivity.

EDB executive vice-president Kelvin Wong said that Covid-19 notwithstanding, previously committed investments that are due to be realised over the next three to five years remain on track.

 
 
 

WHY S'PORE REMAINS ATTRACTIVE

Throughout the crisis, we have been known as a safe harbour for talent, intellectual property, we have remained open and connected, we have not put up export restrictions - all these are attractive features for people to want to continue to put their investments in Singapore.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING

"Some projects may take a longer time to be implemented due to current disruptions to construction timelines," he told The Sunday Times, adding that companies with the capacity to plan for the longer term have continued to engage EDB on new projects.

Other companies, such as Lazada and Shopee, are continuing to hire despite the poor economy, said Mr Chan.

Lazada Singapore chief executive James Chang said the company recently hired 500 staff in response to a surge in orders. It has about 100 more vacancies, and is looking for people with skill sets in data analysis, machine learning, logistics planning and account servicing.

Shopee said it was hiring for business development, software engineering and marketing.

Mr Chan said not every job from the old economy will be preserved, but the Government is determined to help every Singaporean and business here make the shift.

He noted that businesses cannot predict future demand, owing to uncertainty, and so are hesitant about hiring.

To counter this, the Government will partner companies as well as trade associations and chambers to help them hire and train workers. More details will be announced.

The Government will also invest to create new opportunities, while encouraging innovation that can address Singapore's long-term challenges, he said.

One such project is by JTC Corporation. In the middle of next month, it will launch a $4 million effort to digitalise the construction and facilities management sectors to improve productivity and focus on sustainable construction methods and materials, and reduce reliance on foreign manpower.

Companies will also be encouraged to innovate and adopt solutions in areas such as big data, under a Trade and Connectivity Challenge 2020. Winners will receive a prize of up to $70,000, and those eligible will also receive a grant.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 31, 2020, with the headline '$13b secured to create thousands of jobs: Chan'. Subscribe