In his 2021 May Day Message, PM Lee Hsien Loong said that our outlook has brightened considerably compared to a year ago.
Already, our unemployment rate is gradually coming down, PM Lee said. “MTI had earlier forecast 4-6% GDP growth, but barring a setback to the global economy, growth this year is likely to exceed 6%,” PM Lee said. “This will bring us back to where we were before COVID-19 struck,” he added.
Storms in our journey from Third World to First
PM Lee recounted that Singapore’s journey from Third World to First was not all smooth sailing. It has weathered many storms, the first of which was the withdrawal of British forces.
This was followed by the 1973 oil crisis, our first major recession in 1985, the Asian Financial Crisis, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and the Global Financial Crisis.
Our tripartite model saw us through each storm
“Each time, our tripartite model saw us through. Workers tightened belts, made sacrifices, and accepted pay cuts. Employers shared in the sacrifices, and did their best to save as many jobs as possible,” PM Lee said in his 2021 May Day message to Singaporeans.
At the same time, government help supported businesses and workers through the difficult times.
“By working together, practising give-and-take, and focussing on the long term, the tripartite partners found ways forward in difficult circumstances, and strengthened their trust and cooperation in readiness for the next storm.”
– PM Lee –
Against this record of crises past, COVID-19 does not look quite so daunting.
In an overwhelming crisis like COVID-19, NTUC’s mission to protect workers came to the fore, PM Lee said.
Last year, when job losses became unavoidable, the unions ensured that retrenchments were carried out fairly and responsibly. PM Lee noted also that the NTUC’s Job Security Council directly helped more than 28,000 workers find new jobs, as well as provided financial support through the NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19). NTUC also partnered the Government to implement the Self- Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), extending a crucial lifeline to the self-employed.
“Through the crisis, the Labour Movement maintained its collaborative stance. It persuaded workers to sacrifice today for the promise of a better tomorrow. Without this spirit of fighting COVID-19 together and never-say-die, we would not have come through our worst downturn since independence so lightly.”
– PM Lee –
Unemployment rate coming down
Our unemployment rate is gradually coming down. Baring a setback to the global economy, this year’s economic growth is likely to exceed MTI’s earlier forecast of 4 – 6% GDP growth. This will bring us back to where we were before COVID-19 struck, PM Lee said.
Transforming our economy for a different post-COVID-19 world
Beyond this year, new opportunities are opening up, PM Lee said. The pandemic has accelerated trends like digitalisation, automation, and sustainability, across all sectors. “To seize them, we need to transform our economy for a different, post-COVID-19 world,” PM Lee said.
The Emerging Stronger Taskforce is busy working on this transformation. The Labour Movement is also actively involved.
“The guiding principle of tripartism has always been to stay united and progress together. This May Day, let us recommit ourselves to strengthening this partnership, and building a brighter future for Singapore for the next 60 years and beyond.”
– PM Lee –
HAPPY MAY DAY!