MM Lee says Singapore’s economy may grow 3% next year

Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Sunday said the country’s economy may grow by three per cent next year, and added that this year’s fourth quarter looks healthy after Singapore’s economy bounced back in the second and third quarters.

Speaking at the annual tree planting ceremony at his constituency of Tanjong Pagar, Mr Lee said Singapore has emerged out of the recession with minimum damage.

He said the first quarter was the country’s worst period with a sudden drop in exports, and at that point of time, Singapore had expected growth to shrink by up to nine per cent.

However, the country’s economy has bounced back in the second and third quarters this year.

Mr Lee added that Singaporeans must be prepared for slower economic growth, but said that slower growth in the nation and other countries in Asia will still be higher than other regions of the world.

“We have a small population, and we must find ways and means to fill up the drop in our exports,” Mr Lee explained. “Fortunately, we have gone into industries like pharmaceuticals that have not been so badly affected by the slowdown.

“We are placed at the junction of three big economies that are not export-dependent, in other words, exports are not a high proportion of their GDP. They have huge domestic markets: China with 1.3 billion people; India 1.1 billion; Indonesia 250 million. Their domestic consumption and investments have enabled their economies to continue achieving positive growth despite a slowdown in exports.

“The rest of East and Southeast Asia have the benefit of the overflow effect from China, India and, to a lesser extent, Indonesia. Furthermore, we have free trade agreements with China and India that will give us an advantage over other regions.

However, Mr Lee added that there are bigger issues at stake.

The Prime Minister said: “If every time we run into a problem and the younger generation has grown up for the last 20, 30 years knowing only improvements in life, more income, better surroundings, better everything… that’s a problem.

“They have not understood how difficult life was when we started and how easy it is to go back to that situation if we do not work together and strive and make this place successful.”

Mr Lee also said to ensure that Singapore remains as one of the best liveable cities in the world, the country needs an honest and capable government which can think and plan long term.

One of the challenges now is to find the next generation of Members of Parliament (MP) and leaders who can continue with what the present government is doing.

Mr Lee added that it is important to choose the right leaders and not just listen to what the opposition says.

“Come election time, they talk a lot of things, which is rubbish,” said Mr Lee. “This is a government which chooses its MPs very carefully, test them out before they become Ministers, that’s why it is working. The present Ministers can last ten years…”

Mr Lee added that by the next general election due by February 2012, Singapore will see the nucleus of a new generation of leaders who are as able, determined and committed.

In that way, Singapore will remain healthy, strong and at peace.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 8 Nov 2009

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