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Forum Letter Reply to The Straits Times: Different Spin on Wheels of Productivity

Forum Letter Reply to The Straits Times: Different Spin on Wheels of Productivity

GOVERNMENT’S GOAL TO CREATE GOOD JOBS FOR SINGAPOREANS (24 May 2013)

We thank Mr Leon Perera for sharing his thoughts on economic planning in his article, 'Different spin on wheels of productivity' (ST, 21 May). 

The Government’s aim is to create good jobs for Singaporeans by building a competitive and vibrant economy, with productivity as a key driver. By 2030, we project that 2 in 3 Singaporeans will be in Professional, Managerial, Executive or Technical (PMET) jobs, up from 1 in 2 today.  Our strategy is directed towards achieving good employment outcomes of Singaporeans, including raising median wages. For instance, EDB attracts foreign investments that create well-paying jobs which Singaporeans aspire to, such as design engineers and branding and marketing professionals.  In addition to the number of skilled jobs created, we also track traditional economic indicators as a check on economic vibrancy, to ensure that our economic strategies are progressing well.

We agree with Mr. Perera that productivity is a key driver of quality and broad-based growth. Productivity improvements are necessary before workers at all levels can see sustainable real wage gains. The Government has instituted productivity strategies at all levels: national schemes like the Productivity and Innovation Credit, as well as specific efforts at the sector, enterprise and worker levels. We provide grants to help companies make the required investments to improve productivity, increase revenues and lower costs. The National Productivity and Continuing Education Council tracks the productivity performance of the sectors identified for productivity enhancements closely and refines our strategies proactively. We also look at broad-based productivity enablers, which help to raise productivity and wages, such as the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP).

Mr. Perera has suggested using wage share as an indicator of quality jobs. Wage share, while important, does not reflect the wages of Singaporeans. Compared to many developed countries, Singaporeans earn higher real wages even though our wage share is lower. A more detailed analysis of wage shares can be found in the 1Q 2013 Quarterly Economic Survey released today.

Another important enabler to improve productivity is R&D. A*STAR and SPRING work closely with companies, especially SMEs, through programmes like GET-Up to leverage technology to improve productivity. The R&D capabilities we have developed make us attractive to companies. When large companies anchor their R&D facilities in Singapore, they create good jobs for Singaporeans, in both research and non-research roles. These companies also take part in multi-party research consortia that benefit and upgrade our SMEs.

 

Mrs Cindy Keng
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Trade and Industry

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