PM Lee visiting Ng Teng Fong General Hospital

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed a positive outlook for Singapore’s economy in the Year of the Dragon, despite acknowledging uncertainties in the global landscape. Speaking on Feb 9, PM Lee says this year will be “stronger than last year”.

The Straits Times reports that PM Lee highlighted a positive outlook for sectors such as construction, food and beverage, and retail, mentioning ongoing construction projects, increased flights, and the visa-free travel between Singapore and China.

During a visit to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, PM Lee struck a cautiously optimistic tone, foreseeing a potential economic rebound.

Reflecting on 2023, he noted, “Growth was not quite as high as we would have liked, but it has been a steady year and we avoided a recession. Next year, meaning 2024, we hope will be stronger than 2023.”

Singapore’s economy grew by 1.2% in 2023, with a notable uptick to 2.8% growth in the fourth quarter, compared to 1.1% in the preceding quarter. Projections for 2024 suggest growth ranging between 1% and 3%.

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PM Lee emphasised the impact of external uncertainties including global conflicts and economic conditions in major economies like the United States and China. Despite these uncertainties, he expressed confidence that 2024 could outpace the previous year.

He said, “We are not sure exactly how it will turn out… But as of now, from what we can tell, it looks like this year ought to be stronger than last year,” he said. “And from the point of view of Singaporeans, of companies and, of course, of the Government, we should be happy with that.”

Responding to concerns about inflation and the cost of living, PM Lee acknowledged a decrease in inflation from its 2022 peak, currently standing at 4% to 5%.

He assured ongoing government efforts to manage these challenges, including measures like Community Development Council vouchers, MediSave top-ups and U-Save rebates. He said the government aims “to help Singaporeans cope, and will continue to do so.”

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In his Chinese New Year message, PM Lee encouraged Singaporeans to consider parenthood, pledging government support for marriage and family aspirations.

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He said, “I think DPM Lawrence and his team have been working hard at it. We’ve discussed some of his ideas – I think I should leave him to announce good news.”

During his visit to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, PM Lee commended healthcare workers for their dedication, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed gratitude for their efforts in maintaining Singapore’s high healthcare standards.

Nurse Kennis Koh, who met PM Lee during the visit, showed the dedication of healthcare workers, having worked through numerous Chinese New Year celebrations. Despite missing family gatherings, she remained committed to her role in the intensive care unit, supported by her family’s pride in her work.

She shared, “Our work has to be done, so we just do it.”

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PM Lee, accompanied by Mrs Lee and labour movement leaders, concluded his visit with reflections on his tenure as prime minister, expressing appreciation for the opportunity to meet and thank workers during festive periods.

He acknowledged the significant responsibilities carried by healthcare workers amid Singapore’s ageing population, reaffirming support for their crucial contributions.

On Facebook, he stated, “Many of us will be having reunion dinners with our families tonight. But healthcare and frontline workers can’t always spend CNY and other festive occasions with their loved ones. Those on duty continue to provide healthcare support and essential services for Singapore. As we welcome the Year of the Dragon, let us not forget to thank them for their service.”/TISG

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