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Economic Growth and Development in Singapore

Past and Future

Gavin Peebles and Peter Wilson

In this book Gavin Peebles and Peter Wilson offer an historical overview of the rapid growth and development of the Singapore economy, detailing the institutions and policies which have made this growth possible. They examine the current state of the economy and its future in terms of prospective growth and structural change.
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Chapter 2: Foundations for Growth

Past and Future

Gavin Peebles and Peter Wilson


In this chapter we examine the particular nature of Singapore before and at the beginning of its modern period of economic growth and the distinctive institutions and policies the PAP adapted and adopted in order to achieve the economy’s high and sustained rate of growth and its structural transformation. One purpose is to show that many characterizations of Singapore as a free-market economy with few state enterprises or state control that is commonly found in writers from the United States, who rank Singapore as the second most economically free economy in the world, are misleading. Many aspects of the government’s influence over the economy’s resources are not revealed in such numbers as the proportion of GLCs or the public sector in output, which we examined in the previous chapter. Ownership is not the main factor but rather how the government can mobilize resources and allocate them where it sees fit. Another aspect to note is the close links between the business sector, especially the financial sector, and the political elite and the view that the bureaucracy has little independent strength, points argued by Hamilton-Hart (2000). In this context it is relevant to note which sectors of the economy have been protected by the government and the way it has recently faced up to the inefficiencies this has caused and the strong measures it is taking to reform the financial and banking sectors. 2.1 GEOGRAPHIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC ASPECTS Cohorts of students have been taught that Singapore is a small,...

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