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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

NTUC says slowdown in GDP contraction does not mean recovery in sight

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s economy has pulled out of a technical recession, after four straight quarters of contraction.

Advance estimates showed that on a seasonally adjusted annualised basis, real GDP in the second quarter rose by 20.4% compared to the first quarter. However, the economy contracted by 3.7% on—year in the second quarter.

The government has revised its GDP forecast for the year upwards to a contraction of 4 to 6 per cent, against its earlier forecast for a 6 to 9 per cent shrinkage.

But the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said a full recovery is not yet in sight, and has urged firms and workers to remain vigilant.

NTUC deputy secretary—general, Heng Chee How, said: "If you ask the companies on the ground — whether manufacturing or services — they will actually tell you that compared to the first quarter of this year, in the second quarter towards the middle of the year, they have better visibility, so some manufacturing companies say they now have orders up to July or September.

"But they will also tell you that... we cannot assume that just because the second quarter is better than the first, therefore the third and the fourth will be better than the second."

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) also continues to expect a weak recovery with downside risks for the rest of the year.

"If you look at the MTI forecast, they are now revising it (2009 GDP outlook) to minus four to minus six percent contraction. That, compared to any year, is still a very serious recession. I think we should work on that basis and continue to invest in our skills and capability as it is the competitiveness that will see us through," said Mr Heng.

The labour movement said a key priority for the tripartite partners is to ensure that companies continue to take training and retraining seriously.

Hence, the tripartite teams will continue to visit the industries and companies to emphasise the importance of the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) and how they can take advantage of it.

— CNA/ir

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