Singapore faces growing competition in health-care services from other countries in the region, including Thailand, Malaysia, India and China that are now offering first-world medical capabilities at third-world prices, Tan said in a speech last night at a dinner organised by a hospital.
Singapore needs to move up the capability ladder to maintain our premium, rather than get trapped in cost competition, said Tan, who retired as Singapores deputy Prime Minister in September. Breakthroughs must come from creating and applying knowledge.
The island states government is seeking to spur economic growth and create new jobs by developing industries including drugs and biosciences as some manufacturers move jobs to lower- cost locations such as China.
Manufacturing output in the biomedical sciences industry reached S$18 billion in 2005, contributing about 5% to Singapores gross domestic product, Tan said.
The National Research Foundation will provide S$550 million to help fund efforts through 2010 to boost the industry, Tan said.
The Ministry of Health will contribute S$350 million and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research will give S$542 million, he said.