Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to expand by 5.8% in 2021, 0.3 percentage points above the 5.5% forecast in the previous survey, according to the quarterly survey released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

The MAS Survey of Professional Forecasters, which comprised 24 private-sector economists and analysts, said the Singapore economy is “most likely” to grow by 5.0% to 6.9% with a combined probability of 61.8%.

In the previous survey, the economy was projected to grow between 5.0% to 5.9% in 2021, with an average probability of 27.9%.

On a sectoral basis, market watchers are expecting expansions across the board, with construction in the lead at a predicted 22.5% y-o-y growth. This is followed by the 11.0% y-o-y growth estimated for the accommodation & food services sector.

Private consumption and non-oil domestic exports (NODx) are expected to grow by 7.9% and 6.9% y-o-y respectively.

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That said, the economists also foresee growth in 2022 tapering to 3.8%, with the highest probability within the 3.0% and 3.9% range.

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For the 4Q2020, the Singapore economy contracted by 2.4%, which was lower than the 4.5% expected by the respondents in the previous survey.

In the 1Q2021, the respondents say they expect the economy to shrink by 1.1% y-o-y.

As such, market watchers expect the unemployment rate in Singapore to reach 2.9% at year-end, down from the 3.0% previously estimated.

CPI-All Items inflation is expected to 0.9%, higher than the 0.6% previously estimated in the December survey, with CPI-All Items inflation predicted to fall in the range of 1.0% to 1.4% in 2021.

The median forecast for MAS Core Inflation has also upped from 0.6% previously to 0.7% in March 2021, with inflation likely to come in between 0.5% and 0.9%.

CPI-All Items inflation and MAS Core Inflation is also forecast at 1.1% and 1.2% respectively in 2022, with respondents assigning the highest possibility to the 1.0% to 1.4% forecast range.

Despite the optimism amid a recovering economy, market watchers cite the tightening global financial conditions, escalation in the Covid-19 situation, as well as a rise in geopolitical tensions as factors that could weigh on Singapore’s financial market and lending conditions.

Upside drivers of financial and lending market conditions include easing financial conditions, the effective containment of Covid-19 here, as well as capital inflows and a weaker S$NEER.

Looking ahead, the escalation of the Covid-19 situation around the world was cited as the top potential risk that could affect the growth of the Singapore economy, while geopolitical tensions and insufficient stimulus came in second and third respectively.

Upsides to the growth of the economy include the containment of the Covid-19 outbreak, primarily attributable to the acceleration in the distribution of the vaccine globally, as well as stronger-than-expected performance in the manufacturing sector. In addition, re-opening borders and external growth were also identified as key upside risks.