Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents


Policies for the Future

Although the Singapore government took a long-range economic view, it steadfastly refused to draft five-year economic plans of fixed targets and objectives. Rather, its leaders preferred the freedom to change and adapt--coping with unforeseen crises or reacting to sudden global opportunities--a system that worked more often than it failed. As needed, detailed plans were formulated, policies reorganized, and programs implemented. According to the 1986 Report of the Economic Committee, however, economic planning for the 1990s and beyond would require new strategies. Certain fundamental goals, including "good government, efficient infrastructure, education, free enterprise, and flexibility," would remain, but long-term competitiveness would depend on new initiatives. As a result of the report, Singapore announced plans to become an "international total business center for manufacturing and services" and a major exporter of services, focused on information technology (see Information Technology , this ch.).

To lay further groundwork for the next century, the National Productivity Board in 1989 instituted Productivity 2000, a plan for adjusting management styles and work attitudes to deal with a variety of factors expected to exert pressure on the economy in the coming decades. These anticipated factors included slower economic growth resulting from stiffening trade barriers and increasing world competition for foreign investors and markets, slower productivity growth and pressure to tie wage increases to productivity increases, the need to increase capital investments for technology and machinery, the changing labor force profile, and increased standards of living resulting in higher expectations for improvement in the quality of work-life (see Manpower and Labor , this ch.).

In planning for the economic future, the government placed the ultimate burden for continued sacrifice on all Singaporeans: "It is true," an article published in the national magazine Mirror in 1988 informed citizens, "that in the past few decades we have all been too easy in choosing the soft options. We gave in to demands without insisting on responsibilities... specifically responsibilities of productivity. This is true both domestically and internationally. It is not possible anymore."

Data as of December 1989