DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Business Federation and Singapore National Employers Federation Webinar

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 9 March 2021

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Business Federation and Singapore National Employers Federation Webinar on 9 March 2021.


Good afternoon,


Thank you for inviting me to speak at today’s webinar on the Emerging Stronger Together Budget. I spoke to many of you in June last year, at SBF’s 18th AGM.

We had just exited the circuit breaker then, and economic activity was only just resuming in a tentative way.

Nine months on, our situation has stabilised.

Many of you have adapted to operating under the shadows of COVID-19.

Vaccination is underway, and our economy is on track for recovery.

But recovery is highly uneven across sectors. 

For some of you, the pathway to recovery is clear.

For others, the way ahead is much murkier.

The outlook remains highly uncertain.

Emerging Stronger

Yet one thing’s for sure: there is no going back to pre-COVID.

This is why in my recent Budget Statement, I announced that we are shifting gears.

We will continue to provide targeted support where needed, especially for sectors that continue to be hard-hit.

But the Budget’s central focus is on how we – all of us – can emerge stronger from this crisis.

We will be investing $24 billion over the next three years to help you and your workers make the best of economic recovery, and thrive in a post-COVID world.

We will help you to adapt, to innovate, and to grow.

To adapt, we will need to keep abreast of the structural shifts that are underway.

COVID-19 has further accelerated some of these shifts, especially the pace of digitalisation.

We will enable you to participate in the digital economy, so that no one is left behind by the forces of disruptive technologies.

You have our fullest support: to make use of emerging technologies to turn digital disruptions into opportunities, to enable workers to thrive in the digital world through job redesign, and to kickstart your digital transformation journey.

Innovation is key to creating new value and remaining competitive in a post-COVID world.

We will continue to nurture promising start-ups and entrepreneurs.

We will help larger companies to innovate through corporate venturing.

We will connect you to innovation nodes around the world, by expanding our networks and supporting cross-border partnerships.

Through adapting and innovating, I am confident that more of you will grow. You can make the best of opportunities, especially as the economy recovers.

And we will support growing firms to take on more local workers, through the Jobs Growth Incentive.   

I hope that you will make the most of the support provided in this Budget and in previous Budgets – to adapt, to innovate, and to grow.

Stronger Together

The post-COVID world will likely be much more complex and volatile.

More than ever before, recovering from this crisis and growing our economy will have to be a tripartite effort – between businesses, the Labour Movement and Government.

Both SNEF and SBF are critical to this tripartite effort, and I look forward to working even more closely with all of you.

We must pull together our collective strengths and resources to ride the winds of change and waves of opportunities.   

This is the spirit of Singapore Together.  This is critical to how we can emerge from this crisis stronger.

You can contribute to this collective effort in three ways.

First, to further strengthen collaboration and to forge new partnerships.

We started the Alliances for Action as a new way of galvanising collaboration around new growth opportunities.

I encourage you to get involved with the existing Alliances or to start new partnerships. 

You can also explore other opportunities for collaboration, such as through the Open Innovation Platform – which matches private- and public-sector problems with solution providers.

Second, as your companies grow, you must continue to put your workers at the heart of your transformation efforts. 

As you transform, you can create better jobs and prospects for your workers, and upskill them to take on these new roles.

I urge you to make full use of the many SkillsFuture opportunities to do so. 

The fortunes of businesses and workers are intertwined. Investing in your people will ultimately benefit your businesses in the longer-term.   

Third, I encourage businesses that are doing well to give back to the community.

This way, we not only emerge stronger as an economy, but as a society.

Many of you have stepped up during this period.

Some have returned your JSS or shared them with your workers.

I hope our businesses can play an even more active role in giving back to the community, for you can do well and do good at the same time.


Let me conclude. We have so far put the worst of the crisis behind us.

But I hope you will do more than just cope.

Instead, you can make full use of the support provided to shift your focus towards emerging stronger.

In a more complex and volatile world, I also encourage you to work in greater collaboration, take care of your workers, and give back to the community.

So that the next time I speak with you, we would have emerged stronger together.

Thank you.