Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at Durapower R&D Laboratories (Singapore) on 5 February 2021.
It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
This has been a most challenging period for our workers and businesses. Many companies and their workers have been hard hit by the pandemic. The Government has done our best to preserve jobs, support viable companies, and help affected workers. We have so far averted the worst of the fallout, but the road to recovery will be uneven and highly uncertain.
We will continue to support our workers and companies, especially those in hard-hit sectors. But we must also continue to press on with economic transformation, which we started five years ago. COVID-19 has accelerated innovation, put a premium on resilience, and greater priority on sustainability. There is no turning back the clock. While we deal with the present, we must also prepare our workers and businesses for a different post-COVID world.
Last year, we introduced many new initiatives to help our workers and businesses emerge stronger – from helping SMEs and hawkers adopt digital solutions, to giving more support to promising start-ups and entrepreneurs. We have created more than 100,000 opportunities for our workers through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Programme, and set aside more resources to encourage job creation and train our people to work in new sectors. We continue to make progress in research and innovation, and have committed $25 billion over the next five years for Research, Innovation, and Enterprise.
Helping our workers and businesses to adapt, innovate, and grow will continue to be a key priority for Budget 2021. I will be sharing more in my Budget Statement on 16 February.
An example of a company that has been innovating and growing is Durapower. Durapower provides renewable energy storage solutions, including lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. I am standing here at the joint lab that Durapower established with NTU to prototype green energy storage solutions. With a sustained focus on innovation and product development, the company has expanded significantly in the last few years. Durapower is poised to benefit from global green growth and contribute to building a greener Singapore. This will in turn create more good jobs for our workers.
Many other companies are also adapting and innovating to seek new opportunities during this crisis. It is not easy but we must persist. I am fully committed to support these companies, through their journey of innovation and transformation. Together, we can emerge stronger as an economy; together, we can create better jobs for our workers.
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