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PM Lee ‘cautiously optimistic’ about 2022

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead, as Singapore progressively re-opens its borders and resumes travel.

Speaking to journalists on a visit to Jurong Point on the eve of Chinese New Year, Lee said that while some sectors like F&B and tourism are still facing issues, Singapore’s economy is on “an even keel” and set to grow three to five per cent this year.

Responding to a question about his thoughts for 2022, Lee said: “Economically, I think it’s not bad because America’s economy is quite strong, still growing well. Europe, a bit more guarded but they’re also growing.”

He said while the Omicron wave is an uncertainty, “it has gone up quickly (and) is coming back down quite fast” in the developed countries.

“Hopefully that means the economy can continue going without being disrupted too much,” said Lee.

Lee added that there is also some uncertainty over China due to its zero-COVID policy, Lee added.

“I can understand the reasons. It takes a great effort for them to sustain this. And it may have an impact on their economy beyond what is expected, in which case it could affect us too, so we have to watch that,” said Lee.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking to a customer service officer at Jurong Point on the eve of Chinese New Year. PHOTO: CNA

Meanwhile, regionally, Singapore’s neighbours are “doing ok”, he added.

“We are progressively opening up our borders and hoping to resume business as well as people travel including, I hope, tourism travel. So I am overall cautiously optimistic for this year.”

At Jurong Point, Lee spoke to taxi drivers and delivery riders and thanked them for their “hard work” especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was accompanied by Transport Minister S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor, and labour representatives Patrick Tay, Fahmi Aliman and Yeo Wan Ling.

“Many families depend on them, and they’ve been working hard to support their own families,” said Lee.

Taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers have been “very affected” because people are working from home, and there are not many tourists entering Singapore, he added.

“And that’s a significant impact on their income. But with the government schemes and their efforts to adjust, I think they are all coping. We are all hoping for a better year ahead, this year of the tiger.”

At the visit to Jurong Point yesterday, secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress Ng Chee Meng said he was “relieved” that the economy was recovering, and that the livelihoods of taxi drivers and delivery riders were “improving”.

“Glad that the gradual economic recovery is bringing back livelihood possibilities for many of them,” said Ng.

“The way ahead, we hope to be able to assist our drivers, our delivery riders, with even better possibilities in the economy, especially where there are areas where we can improve on like workplace injury, insurances, that will give them some sense of assurance.”