DPM Heng steps aside as 4G leader

DPM Heng to give up finance portfolio in Cabinet reshuffle

A Cabinet reshuffle will be announced in about two weeks, which will see Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat relinquish his portfolio as Finance Minister.

There will also be "consequential moves" in other ministries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a media conference yesterday.

Mr Heng will continue to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, as well as chairman of the National Research Foundation (NRF) under the Prime Minister's Office.

PM Lee said he had discussed Mr Heng's future role in the Cabinet with him following the Deputy Prime Minister's decision to step aside as leader of the People's Action Party's fourth-generation (4G) leadership.

The decision to have Mr Heng give up the Ministry of Finance (MOF) portfolio was discussed last year, when PM Lee and Mr Heng decided on Cabinet appointments after the July 10 General Election.

"We agreed that Budget 2021 would be an important budget, not an emergency budget like the five in 2020, but a budget to take Singapore beyond Covid-19," said PM Lee.

"I told him it would be good for him to see through Budget 2021, and then he could give up the MOF portfolio to concent-rate on the broader coordinating responsibilities."

PM Lee added that he looked forward to Mr Heng continuing to make broader contributions to government policy and to party work.

The Prime Minister was also asked if he would be appointing other 4G ministers to the role of deputy prime minister.

PM Lee said he would give a response in due course, during his next media conference.

Even as Mr Heng gives up his MOF portfolio, he will "have his hands full" as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, PM Lee said.

He said Mr Heng's work as coordinating minister will encompass not only budgets, but also economic, educational and social policies.

Mr Heng will remain chairman of the NRF, the Future Economy Council under the Trade and Industry Ministry and the Joint Council on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) with China. The annual JCBC is the highest-level forum for practical cooperation between Singapore and China.

He will also continue to oversee the Singapore Together movement to ensure that the public participates in national deliberations and helps to formulate government policies.

"When younger ministers are ready to be elevated to be DPM, at that point, we can think about further changes. This is a continuing evolution," said PM Lee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'DPM Heng to give up finance portfolio in Cabinet reshuffle'. Subscribe