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Speech by Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at Spring Reception 2022 on 3 February 2022

03 Feb 2022

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I am very happy to join you for this year’s Spring Reception.  Let me start by wishing a very happy Lunar New Year to everyone.

2. Today marks the third day of the new Year of the Tiger. Tiger years typically signify times of change.  Beyond our fight against Covid-19, there are uncertainties over the horizon, like economic and geopolitical challenges.

3. On Covid-19, we are in much better position today than two years ago, when the virus first emerged.

a. In 2020, you would recall we had to impose a Circuit Breaker to keep everyone safe. As a result, our economy shrank by more than 5% – the worst decline since independence.

b. Last year, we experienced the Delta wave. We went into Heightened Alert and tightened some restrictions. But we managed to weather it without having to go back to a Circuit Breaker and lock down the entire economy.

c. This year, we are experiencing the Omicron wave. The daily infected cases are higher than before. But fortunately, the vast majority of vaccinated persons only have mild symptoms. So, we will do our best to ride through this Omicron wave without having to tighten our existing measures.

d. With each wave, we have strengthened our defences and become more resilient. So, I am confident that in this Year of the Tiger, we will be able to make further progress in our journey towards living with Covid-19.

4. In about two weeks’ time, I will be announcing the Budget for 2022. We are heartened that the Budget is taking place amidst a strong and steady recovery of the economy.

5. Amidst this backdrop, we know that a few sectors continue to face difficulties.

a. For these sectors, we will provide support.

b. We will also help Singaporeans manage concerns over more immediate issues like the cost of living.

6. At the same time, we have to look ahead and focus on measures that will put Singapore in a stronger position for the post-pandemic world. 

a. We will build new capabilities for the future. 

b. We will continue to grow and transform our economy, and create good jobs and opportunities for all Singaporeans. 

c. We will strengthen our social support system, to give Singaporeans greater assurance to cope with life’s uncertainties.

d. We aim to forge a fairer, more inclusive, and a greener home for us and our future generations – so that all of us can continue to be proud to call Singapore our home.

7. As we welcome the new year of the tiger, let us be imbued with the bravery, courage and strength of the tiger, and unite as one people to meet the challenges ahead.

8. Let me continue with a few words in Mandarin.

9. 农历新年是华社最重要的节日之一。虽然在迎接新年的到来之际,冠状病毒仍然在新加坡和世界各地传播,但我很高兴看到这次的活动能够继续举行,让我们还是有机会彼此祝贺。

10. 我也想借此机会,感谢新加坡华族文化中心和新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会在疫情期间的努力,让华社继续保持活跃,并维持紧密联系。

11. 例如,新加坡华族文化中心通过举办各种展览和活动,不断培养和发展属于新加坡人的华族文化和传统,加强我们独有的身份认同感。

12. 宗乡总会也在这段期间,通过各种方式,帮助有需要的群体,并鼓励国人积极面对疫情。同时,总会也不忘持续培养下一代的双语双文化人才。

13. 常言道,新的一年,新的希望。在对抗冠病的同时,我们也必须展望未来。

14. 在这个虎年,我们应该秉持老虎勇敢和不畏挑战的精神,做好面对未来的准备,坚持不懈地向前迈进,才能为全体国人创造更美好的未来。

15. 今年的财政预算案除了关注眼前的课题,例如帮助航空业和旅游业继续复苏、帮助家庭应付生活费的上涨等,也将着眼未来,探讨新加坡能如何利用这个时机,帮助我国在后疫情时代抓住机遇。 

16. 这包括,如何继续推动经济转型、加强社会共识和凝聚力,以及打造绿色和更具可持续性的未来等课题。

17. 前方的路或许充满不确定性,但我相信,只要我们齐心合力,不畏困难,必定能克服所有挑战。

18. 在新的一年里,祝愿大家都充满生气和力量,虎虎生威,面对困难披荆斩棘,踏浪前行!谢谢。