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Trouble in paradise for Singapore's policymakers as economic slowdown sets in

SINGAPORE (Jan 11): 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.

Apart from finding new economic growth drivers, Singapore also faces growing socio-economic issues at home. For one, it has a rapidly ageing population, which has implications for its housing and healthcare policies.

For instance, average inpatient bills in the private sector have risen 9% a year between 2007-2017. In public restructured hospitals, where healthcare costs are regulated, bills at an ‘A’ Class ward went up 4.9% annually over the same period.

On the property front, overall prices of HDB flats remain weak and continue to diverge further from those of private property despite recent government efforts to assuage Singaporeans’ concerns over local home ownership.

According to URA flash estimates released on Jan 2, the private residential property index fell to 149.6 points in 4Q2018, a decline of 0.1 point q-o-q, but rose 7.9% over 2018 compared with a 1.1% increase in 2017.

The HDB resale price index in 3Q2018, the latest data available, was down 0.1 point to 131.6 in 2Q2018, while the private residential property price index was up 0.7 point over the same period. HDB flash estimates for 4Q2018 released on Jan 2 showed the index dipping 0.3 point to 131.4 from 3Q2018, a decline of 0.9% over 2018.

Against this backdrop of slowing economic growth, what are the challenges ahead for Singapore’s policymakers in 2019?

Find out in our cover story this week in The Edge Singapore (Issue 864, week of Jan 14), available at newsstands today. Login to read Remaking Singapore, revisited or click here to subscribe