In his speech at the Singapore Enterprise Star Award dinner, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam said that the Singapore market can not fully allow market forces to drive the economy as that will mean a lower standard of living for Singaporeans.

Screenshot of Tharman from CNA video
Screenshot of Tharman from CNA video

He expressed the government’s desire to restructure the market and repositionSmall and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the centre of economic growth.

“Although that may be good in the short term, we know that it will simply mean that our workers and our Singaporeans will have a lower standard of living eventually, so we must continue on this journey. But neither can we simply leave it to market forces. We cannot take the other extreme, of leaving it to a tight labour market and market forces to decide who wins and who loses. Because if we leave it entirely to market forces, we will lose not just the less efficient businesses, we can also lose many good businesses if you leave it purely to market forces.

…This is why a balanced approach is needed. By taking on a middle strategy, he said that means continuing on the step-by-step restructuring, gradual tightening of the foreign worker supply.”

The Finance Minister indicated that Singapore will continue to tighten the foreign worker supply at the current rate. Government assistance for SMEs will be targeted and there will be a greater emphasis on the development of talent and manpower.