Budget 2014: Catalyse growth holistically

I refer to the report, “Singapore’s Budget Day on Feb 21” (Jan 6).

As we restructure the economy to move up the value curve and in light of the challenging environment ahead, Budget 2014 should generate a catalytic effect on helping our enterprises improve their value-add, competitive edge and resilience.

We need to help them mitigate rising costs and succeed in a tight labour market.

As our competitors are catching up fast with us, we must continue to invest in upgrading our business infrastructure, global connectivity and talent pool to support economic growth.

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We must help enterprises focus on improving labour productivity. This is limited, though, by the company’s operational capacity and the worker’s finite resources.

In the new economy, where the battle line is defined both by the efficiency of the workforce and the innovative value-add of the enterprise, we have to enhance productivity from a more holistic perspective.

It includes creating more and higher value-added industries and enterprises, innovating and exporting future technologies and services, developing game-changing business architecture and becoming market-makers rather than market-takers in order to strengthen our overall growth.

In a fast-changing world, the Government must help firms in setting up environmental scanning and intelligence-gathering systems on a global basis. This would help them predict business trends, pre-empt opportunities, achieve first-mover advantages and move up the food chain.

To do so, we must also start improving our educational systems to produce the next generation of professionals, managers, executives and technicians. Perhaps, we must revisit our policies to attract, develop and retain both the appropriate quantity and quality of foreign talent.

My other concern is that there will be groups of workers, especially the elderly, who may be unable to adapt to the new conditions.

We must enhance their employment and employability, including helping them overcome barriers to improving their mindset, knowledge and competence.

PATRICK LIEW SIOW GIAN

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