With slower growth, an ageing population and rising costs, Singapore’s policymakers have a dicey year, and likely a rough decade or two, ahead. This could be the time to review and reform core policies.

SINGAPORE (Jan 14): The headwinds of geopolitical stresses, market turbulence and policy uncertainties in the major global economies are no friend to small, open and trade-­dependent Singapore. Based on the latest official ­estimates, economic growth is already slowing, albeit remaining at a level respectable for an advanced nation.

Against this backdrop, what are the challenges ahead for policymakers in 2019? Apart from finding new economic growth drivers, Singapore also faces growing socio-economic issues at home. It has a rapidly ageing population, which has implications for its housing and healthcare policies. Government expenditure in these sectors are almost certain to rise, whether in the form of HDB lease buybacks and asset enhancement programmes or subsidies of medical bills for the lower-income groups. This, in turn, means the working population should most certainly brace for higher taxes in time to come.

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