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Job creation amid automation—a major challenge for economies: Singapore Dy PM

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-07-2017 Gireesh Chandra Prasad

New Delhi: One of the main challenges faced by India is job creation, where the policy makers of the country have a limited window of opportunity, amid a fast changing landscape of labour-saving innovation, according to visiting Singapore deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Shanmugaratnam pointed out at the Delhi Economics Conclave 2017 organised by the finance ministry here that the breakneck speed of development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and robots in the industry is posing a major challenge for economies including India. Shanmugaratnam said that India is witnessing rapid automation in many sectors. What is adding to the pace of this trend is the falling costs of robots, which reduces the capital cost for deploying these technologies.

“Now, it is a race against technology,” he said, adding that state governments have to move the boundaries of land and labour reforms to quickly address this situation effectively.

The deputy PM also said that there was a need to create stronger links between jobs and skills.

Another challenge for India, like other economies, is to effectively deal with the tendency to protect incumbents and the practice of established industries preventing the entry of new disruptive businesses, Shanmugaratnam pointed out.

Industries that have a lead try to protect their edge through policies, discouraging the entry of players. “A cardinal principle of public policy is to provide a level playing field and to ensure mobility. Avoid protecting incumbents and make sure that new entrants come up and increase competition. It will make the economy more inclusive,” said Shanmugaratnam.

In response to a question, Shanmugaratnam said that Singapore promotes free movement of goods, services and capital, but as a small country with one third of its population made up of foreigners, it has to work within certain constraints as far as free movement of personnel across borders is concerned.

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