Singapore PM warns of more retrenchments in 2009


Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned the city state to brace for further job retrenchments in 2009, although he said the economy did better than expected in the first half of the year.

“We might see another wave of retrenchments later in the year, so we must stay on guard for more challenges to come,” Lee said in a recorded speech on state television on Saturday, the eve of national day.

Singapore’s preliminary unemployment figure stayed at a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009, unchanged from the first quarter, which was the highest in three years.

Lee said the economy contracted 6.5 percent in the first half of 2009 — a smaller contraction than previously feared — prompting the government to revise down the annual contraction to 4-6 percent from an earlier projection of a fall of 6-9 percent.

“It is too early to celebrate. The outlook remains clouded. The advanced economies are not expected to bounce back soon,” he said.

Singapore leapt out of its worst recession in the second quarter of 2009 due to rising pharmaceuticals production and construction, preliminary government data showed. Final second quarter GDP data is due on Aug 11.

A Reuters survey showed analysts expected the revised data to show that the economy expanded at an annualised and seasonally adjusted rate of 19.2 percent, compared with an advance estimate of a 20.4 percent.

The latest data is expected to show that from a year earlier, gross domestic product fell 3.9 percent rather than 3.7 percent as earlier reported.

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