Background - 09.05.2019 - 00:00 

Capital for purpose: Balancing the needs of society with the needs of corporations

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s focused on how his government is preparing Singapore for the future.
Source: HSG Newsroom

9 May 2019. Heng Swee Keat, the deputy prime minister and minister of finance of Singapore, addressed the 49th annual gathering of the St.Gallen Symposium. For the last few days, Mr. Heng has been leading a government and business delegation on a study trip, where he has interacted with Swiss companies, leaders, and research institutes to learn more about the strengths of Swiss productivity and research and development.

In his podium discussion, Mr. Heng talked at first about his own views on global issues. “We are in a time of uncertainty. We are seeing a period of very significant changes… in our belief systems, in our politics, and there is a great sense of uncertainty around the world.” He believes that there are many factors that play into this and thinks that we are seeing a retreat from globalization because we have a sense that globalization have left many behind and has created greater inequality in our world.

This is exacerbated by the fact that many parts of the world are going through a significant demographic transition. Many parts of the world, simply put are ageing. Singapore is one of them and so is China, Japan and most of the West... So our focus has to adapt.

Economic changes

Mr. Heng points out that changes and growth in China affect Singapore significantly. He looks regularly at the transformation that China is undertaking, both their economy and their demographics, and he wonders, “Will China grow rich, before it grows old?”

Mr. Heng also states that Singapore still believe in globalization, especially since trade plays a major role in their economy. One issue that they are focused on now is not on protecting jobs but on protecting workers… meaning how do they prepare workers for the jobs of the future?

One way they are accomplishing this in Singapore is by having open and honest discussions about the future of work. The government in Singapore brings together business leaders, industry and unions to discuss change. This is done, states Mr. Heng, in an environment that is not confrontational and puts people at the center. How can Singapore change and adapt its workforce for the future?