Singapore must remain confident of overcoming challenges: Heng Swee Keat

(From far left) Garena founder and chairman Forrest Li, head of civil service Peter Ong, Boston Consulting Group managing director (Singapore) Mariam Jaafar, Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Mini
(From far left) Garena founder and chairman Forrest Li, head of civil service Peter Ong, Boston Consulting Group managing director (Singapore) Mariam Jaafar, Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran and Singapore National Employers Federation president Robert Yap at the fifth and final Committee on the Future Economy meeting yesterday.PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/FACEBOOK

Despite the economic turbulence, Singapore should remain confident in its ability to overcome challenges, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday after chairing a Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) meeting for the first time since his stroke in May.

Mr Heng and his co-chair, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, gave updates on the committee's work and noted that Singapore will face some challenges. But they remained upbeat.

The CFE was set up in October last year to identify key areas of growth and devise strategies to grow the economy in the long run.

It is nearing the tail-end of its work, and will release a report on its recommendations early next year.

Committee members are confident of Singapore's future, Mr Heng said on his Facebook page.

"The key thing is to work together, build up our capabilities, and keep agile and nimble. This will take work, of course, but this is the right fighting spirit," he wrote.

Doctors gave Mr Heng the green light to resume light office duties in August, but he is staying away from crowds as he builds up his immunity.

Yesterday's meeting was the committee's fifth and final one, and Mr Heng noted how much the world had changed in the past few months, which drove home the urgency to plan and lay the groundwork for changes in the long term.

The 30-member committee has held more than 80 discussions.

These include focus group sessions with more than 1,000 students, educators, parents, union members, business leaders and academics.

The committee's members have also taken part in more than 20 panel discussions, seminars and conferences, at which they reached out to more than 6,000 people.

Mr Heng said he agreed with members who said the public, private and people sectors should continue to work together even after the committee completes its work.

In a separate Facebook post, Mr Iswaran, who chaired the commit- tee's meetings in Mr Heng's absence, noted the discussions took place amid an uncertain global economy and challenging conditions for businesses and people.

The tough conditions include long-term, structural changes such as an ageing population and technological change.

Said Mr Iswaran: "Even as we address these challenges, we must have a clear focus on Singapore's future competitiveness and growth."

The committee is studying how to continue transforming businesses, boost innovation and ensure Singaporeans have the right skills to seize future opportunities, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore must remain confident of overcoming challenges: Heng Swee Keat'. Print Edition | Subscribe