SingaporeScene

Gov’t should be prepared for economic uncertainties: Tony Tan

Dr Tony Tan said the back-up measures will Singapore a better ability to ride through the crisis if it happens. …

Presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan on Friday emphasised the need for the government to start making contingency plans in preparation for the economic uncertainties that lie ahead.

Pointing out in particular the financial situation in the United States and Europe and how it has affected the global markets, he said it could have an impact on Asia and also Singapore.

Believing in the Boy Scouts motto "Be prepared", he said the back-up economic measures will give the nation a better ability to ride through the crisis, if it happens.

Dr Tan was speaking at the NTUC financial and business services cluster National Day observance ceremony on Friday morning.

"If the impact of the financial and economic contagion spreads to Singapore, as we have seen in 2008 and 2009, the consequences can be very sudden, very widespread and very destructive.

"As I said, I think we should start making contingency plans. Be prepared, it's not too early so that if the crisis hits us, we have the plans ready," he said.

Elaborating more about the plans, he said that the government needs to ensure that Singaporeans, especially those in the lower-income bracket are not severely hit with hardship.

In addition, it must also ensure that the jobs of Singaporeans are protected and to provide assistance to companies so they can continue to employ locals.

"This is vital because there's nothing worse than being unemployed. Not only the person is affected, the whole family is affected."

When asked whether the government should create another Resilience Package as it did in the last recession, Dr Tan said the country might need different type of plans as the next crisis might be different in its duration and nature.

Adding that Singapore's reserves are its "natural resources", he stressed that if elected, he will exercise the President's custodial responsibilities, which include protecting the reserves "with great care".

Dr Tan noted that in good times, the dividends and interests earnings on the reserves can help the government boost its budget and implement growth strategies while in bad times, the reserves gave it the ability and confidence to swiftly stabilise the economy and save jobs.

And this he underscored, is the vital difference between Singapore and countries such as Greece, saying that because they do not possess any reserves, they had resorted to borrowing from the financial markets.

During these uncertain times, he also said that the country needs a President with "deep experience" in the financial world and the "right temperament" to work with all the parties to get the nation through the next crisis.

Since the President also has a diplomatic role in business delegations, Dr Tan said he can create opportunities for Singaporeans and its businesses overseas.

"That is why we need a President with a stature where other world leaders can respect so that it can open doors for Singapore businesses, businessman to go abroad and expand our economic space."

Remaining optimistic, Dr Tan is convinced that the nation's best days lie ahead and said, "With the right leadership, co-operation between the government, employees and unions, we can face the future with confidence."