Vital to help firms transform, improve workforce: DPM Teo

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (centre) with performers from River Valley High School's Dance Society at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre yesterday. With him were MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling; Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan; Senior Parliamentary Sec
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (centre) with performers from River Valley High School's Dance Society at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre yesterday. With him were MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling; Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan; Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling; Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu; Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng; and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Manpower Josephine Teo.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Singaporeans will be hoping for a "big red packet" from today's Budget - but what is more important is helping companies improve their technology and workforce, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, said he expects economic growth of 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year.

He said in Mandarin: "Although everyone hopes for a big red packet, what is more important is how we continue to partner our trade associations and unions to help companies transform and develop new technologies such as in the digital economy.

"We will also help our workers to raise their knowledge and skills needed for the jobs of the future."

He was speaking at the annual spring reception held by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), attended by close to 1,000 guests.

The goal of the SCCC is to nurture and promote the Singapore Chinese culture, and it has attracted more than 100,000 visitors since it opened in May last year.

Mr Chua Thian Poh, chairman of the SCCC and president of the SFCCA, said that the new Chinese cultural centre will lead initiatives in the coming year to nurture a "distinctive local Chinese culture and enhance social harmony". These will include an art exhibition and an opportunity for young people to plan community events.

DPM Teo also said in his speech that the Government would continue to help Singaporeans start families, own homes more quickly and take good care of seniors citizens through various social support schemes, including MediShield Life.

With life expectancy rising, healthcare is one area that the Government will continue to support, with more resources to help seniors lead more active lifestyles, among other things, he said.

"We need to ensure government finances remain sustainable, and are able to provide for our future needs," he said.

"Our founding generation has laid down a strong foundation for us and saved resources for the current generation. Similarly, we, too, must prepare for our next generation, so that our children can have a stronger foundation and the best opportunities to succeed."

Correction note: A earlier version of this story said Mr Chua Thian Poh is president of the SCCC and chairman of the SFCCA. This is incorrect. He is chairman of the SCCC and president of the SFCCA. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'Vital to help firms transform, improve workforce: DPM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe