Emerging Stronger Task Force for post-Covid-19 recovery kept small to be nimble: Desmond Lee

Task force co-chair Desmond Lee reiterated his earlier commitment to seek participation from other segments of Singapore society. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The evolving Covid-19 situation and the need to keep abreast with the speed of changes in the global economy meant the Emerging Stronger Task Force, formed to guide Singapore's economic recovery, had to be kept small in order to move nimbly.

But the task force recognises the value of diversity, and has "every intention of seeking participation, feedback and comments" beyond its 17 members, said task force co-chairman Desmond Lee on Thursday (June 18).

"We have been encouraged by the many suggestions from individuals, corporates and community groups.

"This includes feedback for more diverse representation in the (task force)," said Mr Lee, adding that the task force is part of Singapore's broader efforts to emerge stronger from the pandemic as an economy, a society, and as one people.

Mr Lee, who is Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, was responding to an open letter that had called for more representation from minority groups, vulnerable communities and green sectors of the economy on the task force.

The letter sent to the Government earlier this week was signed by more than 45 individuals, including Nominated MPs Anthea Ong and Walter Theseira, as well as representatives from various organisations, including Artsolute, the Nature Society (Singapore) and the Disabled People's Association, among others.

The writers said that those who have been most affected by the coronavirus outbreak should be included in rebuilding a Singapore that can better withstand future shocks.

And in noting the presence of representatives from the petrochemical and aviation sectors - major contributors of greenhouse gases - on the task force, they had also called for Singapore's leaders to focus on creating jobs in sectors that can reduce the impact of climate change.

The 17-member Emerging Stronger Task Force was announced by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on May 6.

Led by Mr Lee and Mr Tan Chong Meng, group chief executive of port operator PSA International, the task force will work with stakeholders to drive industry transformation strategies in an economic landscape massively impacted by Covid-19, both globally and in Singapore.

Representatives from the technology, banking, property, agri-business, aviation and petrochemical sectors are included in the task force.

The signatories acknowledged that while the task force had said it would consult with other segments of the community, it was important to have members concerned about vulnerable communities and climate change formally on board, to raise and debate issues on an equal footing.

In response, Mr Lee on Thursday reiterated his earlier commitment to seek participation from other segments of Singapore society.

He said conversations have started with a number of Singaporeans to share their Covid-19 experience and aspirations for a more caring and resilient Singapore.

He added: "This will allow us to tap on insights beyond our membership and help guide the issues that are pertinent to every Singaporean."

Details of plans to engage more Singaporeans and stakeholders in this effort will be announced soon, he said.

"I encourage all Singaporeans to actively participate in these efforts to build a better Singapore for all, and for our future generations."

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