PM Lee wishes for broader economic growth, urges support for transport workers

PM Lee wishes for broader economic growth, urges support for transport workers

Channel NewsAsia·2018-02-16 15:00

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and key union leaders visit rail workers from Gali Batu MRT Depot on the first day of Chinese New Year. (Photo: Kamini Devadass)

SINGAPORE: Making a wish on the first day of Chinese New Year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he hopes this year will be a good year in terms of economic growth, adding that he hopes to see growth expanding to more sectors as its now still concentrated in areas such as the manufacturing industry.

“This year, I hope we will have a good year in terms of growth. I hope we will be covering more of the economy and I hope it will not just be expansion because other economies who are booming but continuing upgrading - improving our productivity, improving our companies, improving the skills of our workers,” said Mr Lee on Friday (Feb 16).

Mr Lee also said productivity numbers last year were “very good” and hopes this will be sustained.

“Last year, the productivity numbers were very good. We had a 3.5 per cent in terms of the traditional ways of measuring it, which is per worker. But if you look at it per hour work – in fact it was better – it was 4.6 per cent. I would say that the credit is not just to last year’s performance but should be spread out over several years, because the previous years’ numbers didn’t show up,” added Mr Lee.

“But we were doing work and last year the results showed up. So I hope we will be able to sustain that and we will be able to continue to improve people’s lives, and at the same time improve the amenities and services in Singapore.”

The Prime Minister was speaking to reporters after visits to SMRT and SBS train depots as a show of appreciation to workers working during this festive season.

PM Lee Hsien Loong and key union leaders with SMRT staff on the first day of Chinese New Year. (Photo: Kamini Devadass)

Acknowledging that trains operations in the last year “have been in the spotlight”, Mr Lee said workers have been working very hard and “making quiet progress with their management, with LTA, with MOT.” He also said he keeps track of the train situation.

“I look at the data every month, to make sure the trends are in the right direction – and you can see that there is progress – steadily, gradually, we are getting the reliability up, the faults down, the MKBF (Mean Kilometre Between Failure) improving.”

SUPPORT FOR WORKERS

Mr Lee also called on Singaporeans to support the transport team and workers so that Singapore can continue to maintain a “first-class operation.”

The visits to the train depots were led by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). Mr Lee and Mrs Lee were accompanied by NTUC President Mary Liew, NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng, NTUC Central Committee members and National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) Exco members.

At SBS Transit’s Gali Batu MRT Depot, Mr Lee met with workers who perform maintenance and inspections tasks on trains. Mr Lee also visited the Operations Control Centre where he observed how the Downtown Line train network operations are managed. At a visit to SMRT’s Tuas Depot, Mr Lee also met with workers who work on specific train components.

The workers at both depots are represented by the National Transport Workers’ Union. Red packets and mandarin oranges were given as gifts to the workers by Mr Lee. There were also traditional lo hei sessions with the workers, union leaders and management partners.

And on the budget, Mr Lee also said details of the budget speech is being fine-tuned, but the “main shape has been finalised.”

“I think you know roughly what the finance minister is planning. He’s given some ideas … to deal with immediate problems, at the same time to plan for the longer-term future. Longer term future in terms of investments, longer term future in terms of sustainability – fiscal sustainability and environmental sustainability,” said Mr Lee.

Separately, Mr Chan and key union leaders from the National Transport Workers’ Union brought festive cheer to over 400 bus workers at SMRT’s bus depot at Ang Mo Kio, SBS Transit’s bus depot at Ang Mo Kio and Tower Transit’s bus interchange at Bukit Batok. 

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