2015 outlook for Singapore

SINGAPORE - How will the economy fare this year? What are the key events to watch out for in the manpower, health care and transport sectors? And how would the lives of Singaporeans be affected?

From the country's macro-economic prospects to leadership changes in the local arts scene, Straits Times' columnists take on these answers and more as they offer their views on events impacting the country this year.

The Economy: Restructuring squeeze amid slow growth

The New Year parties are over, but Singapore's economy is still suffering a hangover from 2014.

A potent mix of plummeting oil prices, a lacklustre global economy, the prospect of higher interest rates and domestic restructuring pressures is expected to dampen the economic outlook in 2015.

"There's been a change in the date but the prospects are similar and the risks remain," said CIMB economist Song Seng Wun.

Read more here.

Health care: Health-care jigsaw pieces fall into place

The year 2015 should turn out to be a good year, as far as health care is concerned - barring unexpected developments. In fact, if all goes well, it should be the start of a few good years, as the hard work of the past comes to fruition.

First, the severe bed crunch facing public hospitals should ease this year. The shortage still exists - some hospitals still report 100 per cent occupancy on some days and patients are still being put up in makeshift waiting areas, including corridors.

Read more here.

Transport: Eventful ride for commuters and drivers this year

The year will see several major plans move from the blueprint stage to the implementation stage.

First off, fares. The annual public transport fare review now under way is expected to yield results - and revised fares - in the first quarter.

But already Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has said the rise this year - expected to take effect from April when approved - will be capped at 2.8 per cent.

Read more here.

Manpower: CPF changes, help in rehiring workers

Last year was one of waiting as the implementation of several manpower policies was delayed to give companies time to adjust. This year promises to be more exciting.

The most anticipated move is the prospect of having different CPF Minimum Sums for different groups of people, which Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin hinted at in an interview last month.

The first big announcement on the Central Provident Fund is due at the end of this month, when a government-appointed review panel is expected to announce the first set of recommendations on the Minimum Sum and withdrawals. Later this year, the panel will give its proposals on how CPF members can seek higher returns through private investment plans.

Read more here.

The Arts: Leadership changes and more local fare in the arts scene

With Singapore celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, the arts calendar is packed with retrospectives and a heavier emphasis on local content.

Arts organisations and artists in Singapore have lined up big-bang openings on the international stage but, at home, a changing of the guard at arts institutions leaves quite a few shoes to be filled.

There will be pomp and celebration: The Esplanade commemorates the nation's 50th birthday with a raft of events, including a theatre retrospective in April and May presenting excerpts and full-length productions of 50 iconic Singapore plays.

Read more here.

Sports: Sport's epic struggle for survival

Awash as the world is with crystal-ball gazers, tea-leaf readers and palmists - all trying to map out the world in 2015 - none should be employed in sport.

There is too much of chance at work here. An injury today, a loss of form tomorrow. Sport anyway can't really be forecast or foreseen, for surprise is its essential beauty.

After all, once, Lionel Messi was faithfully married to Barcelona; now, barely 10 days into the new year, there are rumours of ugly divorce. Has choir boy turned prima donna? Did you divine that?

Read more here.

Technology: Three tech trends in 2015 you need to know about

There are many big battles brewing in the technology world this year as companies search for new gadgets to entice consumers to spend. In the living room, three television brands - Sony, Sharp and Philips - have come together to support a new Android TV platform for their new smart TVs, which will ignite the next app war against market leaders Samsung and LG.

Meanwhile, just about every consumer tech company is coming out with a smartwatch this year, as the industry expects exponential growth in this nascent wearable gadget category. All eyes are on the upcoming Apple Watch, but its rivals are not sitting still.

Reprieve is on the way for PC users fed up with the snazzy but hard-to-navigate tiled interface of Windows 8. The next iteration of Windows, dubbed Windows 10, is expected to launch later this year and will bring back the familiar Start menu and desktop interface.

Read more here.

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