SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has stressed that the projected 6.9 million population by 2030 is the "worst case scenario".
In his latest blog post, Mr Khaw said the government hopes that the country does not reach that figure and added that it may never reach it.
Mr Khaw said as planners, the government has to ensure that the infrastructure can accommodate such a figure if need be but it hopes that the actual figure would turn out to be much lower.
Mr Khaw said infrastructure must be built ahead of demand and some planning assumption is needed in order to achieve it.
He explained that in any long term plan, a key assumption is the projected population size.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he fully agrees with Mr Khaw's explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst case, aggressive scenario the government must prepare for.
In his Facebook post, Mr Lee said the government needs to plan consciously and responsibly for the future so that Singaporeans can continue to enjoy a good quality of life, and that Singapore continues to thrive.
Mr Khaw said the White Paper on Population released this week offers the basis for one such projection but he stressed the projection is not a forecast or a target.
It simply states the assumptions going forward, based on certain set of productivity and workforce growth rates.
Mr Khaw explained that for planning purpose, it is safer to take the more aggressive projection and plan infrastructure needs based on it.
And by doing so, Mr Khaw said the government will not be caught under-providing as what Singapore is facing now.
The government plans long term, anticipates future challenges and tries to address them early.
Mr Khaw said the White Paper on Population and the Land Use Plan were released this week as the government knows the country's demographic challenges are severe.
He said the government cannot simply pretend the challenges do not exist and then pass the problem to the future generation to deal with.
Mr Khaw said it would be irresponsible and that is not the government's style.
The minister said the responsible thing to do is to prepare for the worst but to hope for the best.
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