Singapore—Kumaran Pillai, a member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), has weighed in on the economic fallout Singapore faces stemming from the current coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, Mr Pillai also offered possible solutions for the country’s economic recovery.
Mr Pillai, CEO of Apple Seed Venture Accelerator and ex editor of The Independent Singaoore
In a Facebook post published on Sunday (June 7), he expressed concern over the government’s “ability to respond adequately given the enormity and the complexity of the problem,” noting that 200,000 jobs may be lost and that Singapore’s economy may contract by as much as 7 percent.
We are looking at 200,000 job loses and 7% contraction of the economy. These are initial estimates and I'm afraid more…
Certain sectors of the economy are in trouble because of the pandemic, he pointed out, including tourism, event management, entertainment, and retail businesses.
“We are likely to see some layoffs in the coming days,” he added, and questioned whether the S$93 billion in stimulus spending the government has allotted to aid Singaporean households and businesses as well as provide a much-needed boost to the economy is sufficient for recovery.
Mr Pillai then added his “two cents” regarding how he would address the problem, saying that the economic challenges must be viewed “comprehensively.”
First, Mr Pillai called for a “social safety net,” specifically for the most vulnerable individuals in the country. Simply put, the businessman wrote, “the government needs to provide support for individuals and families that are affected by the coronavirus recession.”
Secondly, there is a need to be proactive in the area of job creation. Once the sectors for new jobs have been identified, these must be promoted “aggressively” as well as be given sufficient funding.
Thirdly, Mr Pillai called for the growth of new markets both locally and abroad. While this may seem counterintuitive at this point since efforts are being made to curb further Covid-19 outbreaks, this is not good for business, and therefore “we need to actively develop new digital channels to drive commerce,” he wrote.
Fourth, the businessman proposed the setting of goals such as 1,000 startups of S$1 million each. He added that if these firms create 10 new jobs, this would translate to 10,000 jobs and perhaps would even grow to become “sizeable SMEs in the region.”
Fifth, he believes that rental rates need to be driven down and that REITS should take another look at existing contracts so that tenants may stay as business costs go down.
Finally, he called upon those who have retained their jobs to “go the extra mile,” doing their utmost so that the companies they work for end up even stronger after the recession.
Over the past few weeks, Mr Pillai has been posting proposals on how the economic policies in Singapore need to change to meet the challenges of these days.
He recently posted that the country’s over-reliance on cheap migrant labour needs to end, pointing out that improving Singapore’s productivity has been discussed for years but we “have achieved little and not much to show where improvements in productivity is concerned.”
Mr Pillai has also called for the Government to create a “solid super structure” that would enable businesses to grow both in South East Asian and global markets, given that local markets “ will be lackluster” in the immediate future because of the pandemic. —/TISG