Singapore 'not doing badly' but Govt keeping close watch: PM Lee

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Singapore's economy probably grew more than 1 percent in 2016 but the government is keeping a close watch on the labor market as it has shown signs of weakening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday.

Noting global trends, such as how people in other countries are leaning towards shutting themselves off and protecting themselves from foreign competition, PM Lee urged Singaporeans to remain open, in order to keep Singapore economically competitive.

The government is due to release its advance estimates for GDP in the fourth quarter and the whole of 2016 on January 3.

Mr Lee said that while the labour market has eased, unemployment remains low and jobs are still being created. "I know many employers and workers are concerned, but rest assured the government is watching this closely", Lee said.

He recapped some of the country's achievements of the past year, with various schemes launched to help workers adapt to a changing environment and support professionals going through mid-career job changes. The SkillsFuture national movement is ramping up its Earn and Learn programmes, study awards and fellowships for different sectors.

The Committee on the Future Economy is also working on longer term strategies for growth and its recommendations will be published in a few weeks, he added.

Another major focus for Singapore has been to strengthen its ties with major partners to create opportunities for Singapore companies and Singaporeans, said the prime minister.

Prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have dimmed but Singapore continues to pursue other avenues of economic cooperation, such as through the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, he said.

Singapore concluded a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia in 2016, he said. With China, there has also been progress on the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, the third Sino-Singapore government-to-government flagship project.

At the same time, Lee said Singaporeans are making a City for All Ages, and the country has also updated political institutions, in particular the Elected Presidency.

In his message, PM Lee said that in 2016, 26,000 households got their flats, while 150,000 are benefitted from the Silver Support scheme.

"In our own region, the terrorism threat has grown, even within the a year ago".

"There is profound angst and discontent with the impact of technology and globalisation".