In a revealing TV interview last night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed his thoughts on productivity, foreign workers and how Singapore businesses can help boost the economy
The PM talked about the future of the country now that it has “maxed out” the easy ways to promote further growth. While foreign workers had been brought in to top up the local workforce, Lee admitted that this trend could not continue forever.
“[That] reaches a limit, too. What do you do? The only thing you can do is productivity. Work smarter, work better and deliver results, and improve our lives,” he said.
Lee touched upon how new technology can increase productivity amongst workers, saying it was about implementing these systems in the proper way. “You have to get the right gizmo, and it has to fit into a business which is the right business, and you have to know how to make it work,” he said.
“Some mismatch and wastage cannot be helped, but overall we have to try to make sure that our training and investments deliver results. And if you look at specific companies, you can see that, in fact, they have been able to do better,” Lee added.
This is the third time the Prime Minister has spoken out about these issues over the past month or so. He first brought up these challenges in a speech at the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership in Asia Public Lecture Series on 30 June and mentioned them again in an interview with Time published on 23 July.
The PM also covered the impact of recent changes to foreign employment law on local businesses. On the topic of calibrating inflow for different sectors, Lee said, “[Everyone] has a good case, yet I am not able to sign a work permit for everyone who comes to me with a convincing story, so somehow we have got to live with a less than perfect situation.”
Finally, Lee spoke to those who disagreed with the new laws and tighter restrictions: “[As] a government, we have to deal with this issue and it is an issue where honestly speaking, there are no easy choices. There are trade-offs.”
“And you may agree with it, you may not agree with it, but I can tell you in complete honesty that I am trying my best to do this on your behalf. And I cannot avoid doing this because otherwise I think I will be letting you down.”
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