Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Do you feel the chill wind? Singapore's economy may grow 3% in 2012: MAS -

[Commentary : Do you feel the chill wind blowing ? Batten Down the Hatches and Hunker Down]

SINGAPORE: Private sector forecasters expect Singapore's economy to grow by 3 per cent in 2012.

This is according to the median forecast in the Monetary Authority of Singapore's December survey of Professional Forecasters.

The most likely outcome, as reflected by the mean probability forecast, is for growth of between 3 per cent and 3.9 percent.

That is down from the September survey range of 5.0 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

The outlook is slightly more bullish than the official growth forecast issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) of between 1 and 3 per cent for 2012.

Private sector economists expect first quarter 2012 year-on-year growth to be zero per cent, before picking up for the rest of the year (Q2: 3 per cent, Q3: 3.6 per cent, Q4: 4.8 per cent)

Overall, a moderation in growth is forecast across all sectors next year, with the sharpest adjustment in the manufacturing sector.

In 2012, the industry is expected to grow by 3.4 per cent, down from an expected 8.5 per cent this year.

The financial services sector is expected to grow 4.2 per cent in 2012, less than half the 9.4 per cent pace forecast for this year.

In the manufacturing sector, growth is expected to be at 3.4 per cent, down from 8.5 per cent this year.

For hotels and restaurants, growth is expected to be around 4 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent in 2011.

Amid the forecasts of slower growth, unions are preparing workers for the bumpy road ahead.

Francis Lim, President of the United Workers of Electronic and Electrical Industries (UWEEI), said: "The union is working with e2i and WDA to help the company to go for training. The last few months, we've started our union, our officers and also e2i have met up with some of the companies. So, they are working out and mapping out some training road map for the companies and also for the workers."

Mr Lim said he's seeing some retrenchments, as well as workers going on shorter work weeks although not at an alarming rate.

Hiring has slowed down considerably.

He added that: "Looking ahead, normally at year end when people get their bonus, they start to move around, especially after Chinese New Year. There will be a slowdown because I think many of them dare not leave their companies, because a lot of uncertainties are ahead of them. They won't know whether they can find another job."

For 2011, economic growth forecasts have been trimmed to 5.2 per cent from 5.3 per cent in the previous survey in September.

The official forecast by MTI for 2011 is for Singapore's GDP to grow by 5 per cent.

In 2012, headline CPI inflation is expected to taper off to 3.1 per cent from the forecast of 5.1 per cent for this year.

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