Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Task force focusing on systemic shifts arising from crisis

The task force includes 15 industry representatives from across various sectors.
The task force includes 15 industry representatives from across various sectors.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A task force set up to help the country deal with the longer-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic said it will focus on identifying the systemic shifts that will arise from the crisis.

It said after its first meeting yesterday that it will assess the impact of these shifts on Singapore, and make recommendations on how the country should refresh its economic strategy.

The 17-member group, named the Emerging Stronger Task Force, added that it will consult business leaders, industry experts and trade associations, as well as regular Singaporeans, and put out its recommendations in phases.

It aims to share its first set of preliminary recommendations with the Future Economy Council (FEC) by early next year.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who chairs the task force with PSA International group chief executive Tan Chong Meng, yesterday thanked the members for joining the group.

Apart from the two co-chairs, the task force includes 15 industry representatives from various sectors.

Among them are DBS group CEO Piyush Gupta, CapitaLand group CEO Lee Chee Koon, Changi Airport Group CEO Lee Seow Hiang, president of the Singapore Hotel Association and head of hotels at Pontiac Land Group Kwee Wei-Lin, and Asia-Pacific CEO of commodity trading company Trafigura Tan Chin Hwee.

Mr Desmond Lee said: "Each member brings a wealth of experience, expertise and deep connections with industries and I look forward to their contributions.

"By hoisting in views from different segments of society, we want to put together a set of economic recommendations for the FEC to build on, so that Singapore can emerge stronger from this crisis."

Mr Tan Chong Meng added: "We will need to re-imagine the next 'new normal' across multiple dimensions. As the co-chair of the task force, I urge members to think beyond the confines of everyday life and apply smart, effective solutions to the unprecedented challenge before us."

The task force was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in March. He gave more details a month later during his speech rounding up the debate on the supplementary Budget.

Mr Tan Chin Hwee said Covid-19 will give the country the opportunity to push for changes it might not have been able to in peacetime.

 
 
 

"We need to be an economy and a society that can respond swiftly to changes arising from rapid technology and innovation, to help Singapore capture growth," he said.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Heng said that while World War I was a defining event for the 20th century, the Covid-19 pandemic looks set to define the 21st century, and will change globalisation and social behaviour, further fray the social compact in many societies and accelerate the pace of technological change.

"But we are determined that there should be no lost generation in Singapore," Mr Heng added, referring to those who came of age during World War I. "We are doing our utmost to keep viable companies afloat and to preserve jobs.

"We do not know what the 21st century will shape up to be post-Covid-19. But we are sailing into uncharted waters - surveying the new landscape, exploring new growth and opportunities, preparing to seize them when the storm passes."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2020, with the headline 'Task force focusing on systemic shifts arising from crisis'. Subscribe