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Parliamentary Replies

Scope of Future Economy Council

03 Jul 2017

Parliamentary Question by Mr Liang Eng Hwa:

To ask the Minister for Finance (a) what are the scope and terms of reference of the Future Economy Council; (b) how does the new Council intend to work and coordinate with the other economic agencies and efforts to tackle challenges of the future economy; and (c) what are the desired outcomes set for the Council.

Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat:

A small, open economy like Singapore must adapt to the significant structural shifts in the external environment. Industries and jobs are changing due to changes in technology, demand patterns and supply conditions. In particular,  digital technology is likely to trigger changes in many industries.  These changes will bring new opportunities and new challenges. After extensive consultation, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) has proposed a set of recommendations to guide our approach. 

The CFE’s strategies have set the broad directions. The Future Economy Council (FEC) will oversee the implementation of the CFE recommendations, and will build on the work of the earlier Council on Skills, Innovation and Productivity, which includes SkillsFuture initiatives and the Industry Transformation Maps.

At its core, the scope and focus of the Future Economy Council is on growing and transforming Singapore’s economy for the benefit of our people. This will be done at three levels – first, growing an economy that is vibrant, open and connected to the world, supporting the growth of new and existing industries; second, strengthening our enterprises through industry-specific transformations to help them grow, innovate and scale-up; and third, enabling Singaporeans acquire and utilise deep skills, so as to seize opportunities in the future economy.

All these will require close collaboration among the tripartite partners. The Government, industries, unions and individuals all have key parts to play. The Council therefore comprises representatives from the Government, private sector, unions, Institutes of Higher Learning and Trade Associations & Chambers. Besides the main Council, 6 tripartite FEC sub-committees, led by private and public sector co-chairs, are co-ordinating the efforts for 6 clusters of industries.  At the industry level, we have Industry Tripartite Committees leading the work on the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs).

Let me give you an example of a collaboration from the Built Environment FEC sub-committee co-led by Minister Desmond Lee and Mr Lim Ming Yan from CapitaLand. As part of the Construction ITM under the sub-committee, BCA brought together 400 industry stakeholders, including Institutes of Higher Learning and TACs such as the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) and the Singapore Institute of Building Ltd (SIBL), and identified 35 key technologies across 7 clusters in the built environment for further R&D to unlock greater productivity gains. The work culminated in the Construction Productivity R&D Roadmap, which is being incorporated as part of the Construction ITM. This example illustrates how different stakeholders can come together, each bringing their unique strengths, to advance the construction industry. 

The structural changes that are happening in the global economy will require us to respond robustly. All parties will need to each do our best, and work in close partnership to respond to change. Together, we can build a value-creating economy that is open and connected to the world, offering a multitude of opportunities, and creating good jobs for Singaporeans.