Is the Budget enough for Productivity Growth?

One of the NTUC’s recommendations to the government for the 2016 Budget was to help support companies and workers to improve productivity.

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With the long term structural shift that the economy will have to go through, the Labour Movement urged the government to help workers to “re-skill and take advantage of the new jobs that will be created”.

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Fortunately, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced a plan to transform and grow companies in the form of the Industry Transformation Programme to:

“transform our enterprises, transform industries and transform through innovation…”

According to Mr Heng, the programme will:

  • Integrate the different restructuring efforts
  • Have measures that are more targeted and sector-focused
  • Deepen the partnerships between industry and government and among industry players
  • Stress harder on technology and innovation

Two initiatives within the programme seems like they are focused on helping companies to scale up their business and cut labour costs and creating higher value-added jobs.

Automation Support Package

The package looks to support companies to automate, drive up productivity and scale up for a period of 3 years.

National Robotics Programme

Robot Integration

$450 million will be made available by the government over the next 3 years to support robotics development and deployment across sectors such as Healthcare, Construction, Manufacturing and Logistics.

“Robotics technology can enable us to work more effectively in a tight labour market, and can also create more high value-added jobs.”
– Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat

Much-needed boost for the economy

Right at the start of the year, the NTUC reported that 2016 will not be an easy year for workers.

Cham Hui Fong

In fact, at a media briefing for the 2016 outlook for the unionised sector, NTUC Assistant Secretary General Cham Hui Fong urged companies to up their productivity by being manpower-lean and transform as fast as they can.

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Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in his speech at the 2015 May Day Dinner said:

“There is no other option for Singapore but to persevere in this effort, so as to raise productivity and incomes. It requires full and sustained commitment from everyone – employers, top management and supervisors, the Labour Movement, and all of us as individuals, working with Government. We have to push ahead together and build momentum in our productivity journey.”

So why is this productivity journey so important?

It is so important because it concerns the livelihood of you and I, Singaporeans, in the long run.

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The only way for our economy to pick up and grow is to improve productivity. Once this succeeds, it will mean that businesses improve, resulting in better jobs and better incomes for workers.

Hence, it is only natural that the government and also the labour movement are concerned about the improvement of productivity.

 

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Arthur Lee

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