Emerging Stronger Taskforce: 5 things Singapore needs to do to recover from Covid-19 pandemic

Singapore can also redefine its relevance as a safe and smart city for trade, business, work, and leisure, the task force said.
Singapore can also redefine its relevance as a safe and smart city for trade, business, work, and leisure, the task force said.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A task force set up to guide Singapore's economic recovery from Covid-19 has identified five things the country needs to focus on to prepare its economy for the longer-term impact of the pandemic.

Here are the key recommendations from the Emerging Stronger Taskforce's report, which was released on Monday (May 17).

1. Seize global opportunities for digitalisation

Singapore can take its Smart Nation aspirations global by building on the strong foundations of its digitalisation efforts so far, the task force said in its report.

For enterprises, Singapore can build a virtual marketplace of goods and services to support the creation of new products and digital experiences, as well as participation in the trade of goods and services.

For talent, the task force recommended using virtual training and workforce solutions to help Singapore companies tap global resources to better serve global demand from Singapore. This could also open up new opportunities for Singaporeans to work overseas, it said.

Singapore can also redefine its relevance as a safe and smart city for trade, business, work and leisure, the task force added.

2. Go big on sustainability and tap growth opportunities

The task force said Singapore should establish itself as a sustainability hub to serve global demand amid a growing green economy, while at the same time fulfilling its own commitments to fighting climate change.

There should be a concerted push to establish Singapore as a carbon trading and services hub, which entails developing a carbon marketplace built on quality and trust.

Singapore should also strengthen its food resilience through advancements in agritech, the task force said.

It said Singapore can do so by improving the economic viability and sustainability of indoor vertical farming here and identifying broader agritech opportunities that the country should invest in and aim to lead in the years ahead.

The task force also recommended strengthening the traceability and accountability of industry value chains through end-to-end digitalisation.

3. Build on fundamentals by growing a strong Singapore core

The Government should support the growth of innovative and international large local enterprises through innovation, internationalisation, mergers and acquisitions, and talent development, the task force said.

But it said Singapore must also enable a broad base of companies to succeed, including small and medium-sized enterprises and micro enterprises.

The task force said Singapore should adopt a preventive or predictive approach to skills upgrading and reskilling.

This entails identifying job disruption and training needs early and developing workforce training plans, so that businesses and workers can be more resilient and ready for the future.

4. Institutionalise private-public partnerships

Noting the initial success of its Alliances for Action (AfAs), which are industry-led partnerships between private and public sector stakeholders, the task force recommended institutionalising them.

It said future AfAs in the economic domain should be primarily established under the Future Economy Council (FEC), and serve as an additional platform for private-public collaboration and a key enabler for transformative economic growth.

Future AfAs should also take into account learning points from the task force's AfAs, and key criteria should be set up for commissioning and closing them.

The report noted that not every AfA will succeed in delivering the outcomes it sets out to achieve. The FEC should therefore continue to refine the AfA model by learning from successes and gaining insights from challenges and failures.

5. Strengthen international partnerships, especially with South-east Asia

Singapore should position itself as a partner for recovery and growth, and foster win-win partnerships with its neighbours, the task force said.

It added that the country can do so by working with countries in the region at all levels, including through partnerships between businesses, and deepening Singapore's engagement with, and knowledge of, the region.

The task force said Singapore must contribute to South-east Asia in particular, noting that Asean was the third-largest market in Asia after China and Japan in 2019, and the fifth-largest globally.

More platforms should be established to bring interested companies together to engage the region at the business-to-business level, it said.

As South-east Asian countries are important digital partners for Singapore, the task force also recommended strengthening digital connectivity across the region, such as through digital economy collaborations.