Business

Singapore economy will come 
out 'stronger': MAS chief

Economic restructuring remains a work in progress and more needs to be done to raise productivity growth, said Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon.

Mr Menon told a forum yesterday: "Singapore will not be immune to the global tightening of financial conditions, volatility in capital flows and potential stresses in the regional corporate sector.

"But our macro fundamentals are sound, and we will weather these storms. And as we continue to invest in the future, in skills, in technology, and in infrastructure, we will emerge a stronger and more dynamic economy."

He said a key challenge will be how well and quickly Singapore can upskill as a workforce to thrive in an increasingly digitalised economy.

"Raising the levels of skills and competencies and abilities is going to be absolutely critical," he said, pointing to the need to keep up with rising technologies and disruption.

Singapore companies also face a challenge in deciding how much they can embrace and use technology to bring down costs.

Mr Menon noted that it is difficult in an environment with slow growth, tight margins and rising costs to find the resources "to take a forward view and invest in technologies... but that is something we have to do".

The economy is expected to continue on its modest pace of expansion this year, with gross domestic product growth likely to come in between 1 per cent and 3 per cent, said Mr Menon.

SINGAPORE HUB

Modern services, including finance and information and communications technology, will be supported by continued growth in the region and Singapore's growing status as a hub, while trade-oriented industries should also benefit from the mild upturn in global and regional electronics.

"In fact, the strong showing in the last quarter of 2016 indicates that the Singapore economy retains the capacity to ride on cyclical upswings in demand for exports," Mr Menon said.

Singapore's exports last November jumped 11.5 per cent over the same period a year earlier, helped by a rise in shipments to the European Union and China.

Mr Menon noted in a question posed during his dialogue with Mr Edmund Koh, head of UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific, that MAS property measures have made progress in "stabilising the market".

"We are very conscious that we don't go back to the situation we had before," he said.

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg

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