Photo of Lim Swee Say from Youtube

Speaking at a conference for businesses, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say complained that wages in Singapore are too high and that productivity gains are not catching up with wage growth.

Worded in Singlish, Minister Lim Swee Say said:

“Cheaper competitors are getting better with higher educational levels, while better competitors are getting cheaper through better technology. If productivity gains continue to lag behind wage growth, Singapore’s competitiveness will be eroded.”

The Manpower Minister then complained about the lack of productivity growth in Singapore, and that the country’s GDP has been badly affected:

Singapore’s productivity growth has been flat in the last two years. Coupled with flat local workforce growth, it has caused Singapore’s sharp drop in GDP growth. Between 2011 and 2014, workforce growth at 4 per cent drove GDP growth of 4 per cent, despite no gains in productivity. Last year, with similarly flat productivity growth and 2 per cent workforce growth, GDP growth was just 2 per cent.”

Minister Lim Swee Say then waxed lyrical about “economic transformation” without giving details:

“Local workforce growth increased by only 700 people last year. About 190,000 Singaporeans left the workforce, while about the same number entered. With better education and skills, those entering the workforce are looking for jobs different from the jobs vacated by those who have left.

What this means is that economic transformation is important, not just because they will bring about higher productivity for the economy.. but because they will bring about better jobs and better wages.”