International Asia PM Lee on living with Covid-19: "Our biggest priority is jobs"

PM Lee on living with Covid-19: “Our biggest priority is jobs”

A National Jobs Council set up to help with the efforts to create new jobs for the economy

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in the first of a series of national broadcasts by Government leaders, spoke on Sunday (June 7) on the topic, “Overcoming the Crisis of a Generation”.

Mr Lee outlined how Singapore has to learn to live and adapt with Covid-19 and why he remains confident about the country’s future despite the challenges ahead. 

In addressing the concerns with the slowdown in the economy, he warned that “retrenchments and unemployment will go up”. 

However, he tells Singaporeans “do not fear” and “do not lose heart” as the country had a headstart in preparing for the uncertainties ahead. 

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Confident on Singapore’s future 

Mr Lee remains optimistic that Singapore will pull through and emerge even stronger from this crisis. He states that it can survive this crisis due to these reasons: 

  • Tuning in to our economic strengths (being connected to global flows of trade) to create new businesses and jobs.
  • Its stable political system has earned a trusted international reputation and this will come in useful.
  • Its ability to tap on overseas markets and opportunities for international partnerships 
  • Future Economy plans such as upgrading workers through SkillsFuture, digitalising private and public sectors and building R&D capabilities. 
  • Schemes enacted by the Government to help Singaporeans keep jobs or find new ones such as Job Support Scheme, SGUnited Jobs, National Jobs Council, Workfare Special Payment, COVID-19 Support Grants and Skills Packages. 

The notion of the Future Economy was reiterated and he expresses that we need to pursue them “even more vigorously now”. 

Singapore has started to systematically reboot the economy, such as rebuilding transport and trade links and making reciprocal Green Lane arrangements to secure safe travel to and fro China. 

Singapore has also started to diversify sources of food, such as through buying eggs from Poland and shrimps from Saudi Arabia. 

“The Government’s biggest priority now is jobs” 

A National Jobs Council led by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been set up to help with the efforts on the loss of jobs and to create new jobs for the economy.

There are five groups of people that the Government is more concerned about: 

  • People in their 40s and 50s who have to take care of their children and support elderly parents. 
  • Mature workers who are nearing retirement. 
  • Lower-income workers. 
  • Self-employed and freelancers. 
  • Fresh graduates. 

Mr Lee gave the assurance that there are various schemes in place to help all these groups during this crisis. /TISG

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