PM Lee: Govt focused on cost of living issues

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tackles concerns over cost of living in his May Day address. (AFP file photo)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tackles concerns over cost of living in his May Day address. (AFP file photo)

Addressing the issue on the topmost of Singaporeans' minds, the rising cost of living, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the best long-term response is to ensure workers have jobs and enjoy a steady increase in wages.

He acknowledged, in spite of measures such as the $3.2 billion Grow & Share package, Singaporeans are still worried about the cost of living.

"The government is very conscious of this and we will continue to focus on this," he was quoted as saying by Channel NewsAsia on Sunday.

"And the ministers and I are personally very focused on this also, because we are very concerned that Singaporeans are worried and anxious and we want to be sure that whatever we can do, we will do."

"So we are tracking very carefully what is happening elsewhere that can impact our prices and we are finding ways to buffer ourselves and to manage our domestic costs," he assured.

PM Lee was speaking at the May Day Rally on Sunday, to a gathering of 8,500 union leaders, members and tripartite representatives at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

He also announced the setting up of a NTUC50 development fund, which will be used to build a three generation membership base of 1 million and develop future generation leaders in the labour movement.

In his Malay speech, PM Lee noted that the Malay-Muslim community is benefiting from Singapore's success.

He said, Malay workers are doing well. Many have gone for upgrading and taken better-paying jobs.

More Malay students are also going into university, while those in the polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education are picking up strong technical skills.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister also released his May Day message, where he dealt on the topic of politics.

He said, politics in Singapore is not just about parties and elections. It is about "Singaporeans understanding what their future depends on, and supporting leaders who will work with them to secure their future".

He noted, "Our politics have looked after the interest of workers".

It is also about "upholding key institutions like the tripartite partners, so that we are resilient when confronted by challenges, and emerge from crises tougher and more united," said PM Lee.

While he cautioned of "storm clouds" in the horizon, such as economic troubles in the European Union, Japan's tsunami and nuclear crisis as well as the upheaval in the Middle East, he expects Asia to remain stable and vibrant.

However, the Prime Minister pointed out, "in the long term, how well Singapore does depends on our policies and politics."

Singapore's success over many years due to a good government and good policies have led to better jobs and better lives, which in turn, consolidated support for good government and good policies, said PM Lee. "We have to keep this virtuous cycle going."

The aim of growth is to raise Singaporeans' standards of living, and the government must "make a concerted effort" to allow all Singaporeans to benefit, he said.

The most effective way to raise incomes is through upgrading skills and productivity, said PM Lee. The tripartite partners -- businesses, workers and government -- are focusing on this.

2011 marks 50 years of partnership between the People's Action Party and the labour movement, the National Trades Union Congress.

Said PM Lee: "Let us continue working together to grow the economy, create more good jobs and secure a brighter future together for many years to come."

For the full speech released on Saturday, click here.

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