During a dialogue session held with unionists and employers at the Nanyang Polytechnic on 14 October 2001, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced that a committee would be formed to formulate a blueprint for restructuring Singapore’s economy as well as to develop measures to address the issues faced by the economic revamp. He explained that the challenges Singapore was facing at the time were the most severe since 1965 and cited three threats to Singapore: security, social cohesion, and livelihoods and jobs. The committee would be headed by then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
On 3 December 2001, a press briefing was held to officially announce the establishment of the Economic Review Committee and introduce the committee’s objectives and its 20 members. The newly formed committee would spend about nine months reviewing the long-term restructuring of the economy and proposing short-term strategies to address the immediate challenges brought about by the economic recession.
The main committee members comprised ministers, academics, union leaders and representatives from the private sector. Seven sub-committees were formed to deal with specific issues. The sub-committees would work together with the main committee as well as seek feedback from the public to fine-tune their proposals.
The sub-committees were responsible for assisting the main committee in the following areas:
1. Policies related to taxation, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system, wages and land
2. Promoting entrepreneurship and the growth and internationalisation of Singapore-based companies
3. Enhancing human capital
4. Manufacturing sector
5. Service industries
6. Domestic enterprises
7. Dealing with the impact of economic restructuring
The 199-page final report, which detailed how Singapore could achieve further economic growth and development, was published on 6 February 2003. Titled New Challenges, Fresh Goals: Towards a Dynamic Global City, the report identified the following five key priorities : expand external ties; stay competitive and flexible as an economy; encourage entrepreneurship in a knowledge economy; promote both manufacturing and services; and develop its people.
There were several earlier recommendations that had been implemented, including the revamp of the tax and CPF systems.
1. Ng, S. (2001, October 15). High-level govt panel to look into economic revamp. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Low, I. (2001, December 4). Top-level economic review takes off. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Prime Minister’s Office. (2001, December 3). Establishment of the Economic Review Committee (ERC), 3 Dec 2001. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from the Ministry of Trade and Industry website: https://www.mti.gov.sg/ResearchRoom/Documents/app.mti.gov.sg/data/pages/507/doc/ERC_Establishment.pdf
4. Prime Minister’s Office, 3 Dec 2001, Establishment of the Economic Review Committee (ERC), 3 Dec 2001.
5. Teo, A. (2003. February 7). Economy gets short-term fix – and a vision. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Singapore. Economic Review Committee. (2003, February). New challenges, fresh goals – Towards a dynamic global city. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from Ministry of Trade and Industry website: http://www.mti.gov.sg/ResearchRoom/Documents/app.mti.gov.sg/data/pages/507/doc/ERC_Full_Report.pdf
7. The Business Times, 7 Feb 2003, p. 1.
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.