Ideas on ways to get economy ready for future unwrapped in Parliament

A bundle of ideas on getting the Singapore economy future-ready was unwrapped in Parliament by MPs yesterday.

They centred on the Government helping local companies grow by playing bigger roles in Singapore's infrastructure projects, being flexible with rules and regulations, and creating a culture of diverse hires and innovation.

Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) pushed for the Government to make it essential for overseas corporations in local train projects to form joint ventures with local companies.

This would pave the way for the companies here to get skills and experience that would make them more competitive regionally and globally, he added.

The scope is significant as Singapore plans to double the length of its rail network to 360km by 2030, he noted.

Currently, he said, most of the train tunnelling work is done by foreign giants, and foreign companies are the main providers of rolling stock like trains and signalling systems.

Pointing out that competition is no longer local, Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan) said that companies need to be forward-looking in job creation.

She urged companies to adopt a hiring policy that embraces older employees and mid-career workers retrained in new skills but with no relevant experience yet.

Another move in bolstering the economy is for more flexible regulations to keep up with a rapidly evolving business landscape, said Mr Ang.

MPs like Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) and Nominated MPs Azmoon Ahmad and Chia Yong Yong dwelt on the culture of innovation. Ms Phua said the public service is restrained by fear of criticism, of making mistakes and of being judged, punished or named and shamed.

True innovation requires "the whole society to create an environment that encourages and celebrates a sense of playing, tinkering and experimenting", she said.