By Fawwaz Baktee
One of the focuses in the upcoming Budget 2019 will be on how the Government can continue to help enterprises deepen capabilities so they can stay competitive and productive. This will help them seize opportunities that are growing in Asia.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said this at the sidelines of his visit to the NTUC FairPrice Distribution Centre in Benoi on 14 February 2019. He was there to understand how the co-operative leverages innovative technology and automation to improve productivity.
“At the same time, in the process of doing this, I hope to see them [companies] place emphasis on training and upgrading our workers. As we redesign jobs, we will need to help workers learn new skills. In that way, the company can be more competitive, and at the same time the worker can be more productive and enjoy better jobs and better pay.
“Industry 4.0 signifies the achievements and advances in technology. And our ability to master technology will be key to a better life for the future,” said Mr Heng.
As the Singapore economy is very open, the country also needs to look at how it can create partnerships around the world to achieve “the best possible results for our companies and our workers,” added Mr Heng.
Tour at Distribution Centre
At the tour, Mr Heng saw how FairPrice uses technology to be more productive and efficient.
Some of the technologies found at the centre include an automated storage and retrieval system and the Caddy Pick system, which uses robotic technology and autonomous vehicles mounted on a rail to transport products.
Mr Heng also saw the Radio Frequency Identification Technology, which is used for precise tracking of items and the Autostore, an automated system that FairPrice uses for its online shopping platform.
“I’m impressed with what FairPrice has done to work together with the workers on how they can retrain many of the workers. Many of the workers told me how the process used to be very manual, and that in the process of learning, they have been able to pick up new skills.
“The management took a very conscientious effort in the integrating of what they are doing with the training of their workers. I think all enterprises need to put this as a major priority so that our workers can make the best use of technology and continue to raise productivity and create a better life,” said Mr Heng.
Other announcements at Budget 2019 will be on social policies, the details of the Merdeka Generation Package, and how Singapore will celebrate its bicentennial.
“It is a major event, and I hope we can reflect on our past to plan for a better future,” he said.