25 October 2008

Singapore urged to rethink economic model for growth

'People for growth' - growth as an end in itself - is not the same as 'growth for people', growth as a means toward greater welfare for people.' said economist Linda Lim.

She said a lot of sensible things including:

"Why aspire to be a second Boston or second London and not a first-rate Singapore?"

Singapore is particularly well-placed for a whole cluster of economic activities 'from finance to forestry and fisheries'

"Where are we? We're next to the biggest forests in the world. Why not be a carbon finance centre? People are doing this in San Francisco! They are doing Indonesian . . . avoiding deforestation . . . out of San Francisco! Why can't we do it from here?"

Linda Lim is professor of strategy at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and director of its Center for South-east Asian Studies, and was a speaker at the Singapore Economic Policy Conference yesterday.

She also said the growth model that has served Singapore may be out of place in a changed environment.

The 'EDB (Economic Development Board) model of give them a tax break and they will come' - has both tried to do too much and achieved too little in terms of delivering high and secure incomes and living standards.

'We've 40 years of savings and repressed consumption, so do we throw it at UBS and Citigroup and lose 60 per cent of the value, or do we use it for ourselves?'

Singapore, she said, can become a 'global model' for environmentally-friendly buildings and lifestyle.

Full articles about her talk on the wildsingapore news blog.

At the same time, Singapore gets top marks in UN World's Cities Report

Singapore scores high because we have "no slums" and "was singled out as a country that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits" BUT this "did not take into consideration the amount of carbon dioxide produced by industry for products and services destined for foreign countries, including oil refineries and aviation."

Other interesting comments include:

The UN said people's consumption and lifestyle patterns, and not urbanization, are to blame for climate change. To solve the problem, cities need to use less fossil fuel, maximise recycling and have a well-planned transport network.

However, experts cautioned that as all cities progress, they will no longer be measured just by their level of economic, social and environmental progress.

Cities like Singapore will also have to look at its inclusiveness and its quality of life. Related to this, the report said cultural assets too should be protected to nurture the soul of the city.


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