PM Lee says Cabinet reshuffle will take place after 2019 Budget debate
PM Lee says changes could be made in April or May
Changes to the Cabinet to put younger ministers in key posts will be announced some time after the Budget debate next year.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated this time frame for a reshuffle in an interview with Singapore media on Saturday in Argentina, where he was attending the Group of 20 leaders' summit.
The Budget debate ends in March, and Mr Lee hinted the changes could be made in April or May.
But for the leadership transition to the fourth-generation (4G) team to go according to plan, the People's Action Party (PAP) must first win the next general election, Mr Lee added.
The 4G ministers have decided that Swee Keat will be their leader... and the MPs have endorsed this conclusion. The party’s position is clear.Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on whether Mr Heng Swee Keat would be the next prime minister
"It depends on the party staying together and the party winning elections. And the first thing to do will be to win the next election," he said.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is expected to be deputy prime minister, the post that the second and third PMs - Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee - held while they were earmarked for the top post.
Mr Heng, 57, was announced by the PAP as its first assistant secretary-general following internal party elections, making him the most likely candidate for future PM, while Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, 49, was named its second assistant secretary-general and Mr Heng's deputy.
Asked if Mr Heng would be the country's fourth prime minister, Mr Lee replied the PAP had made it clear that Mr Heng would be its next leader.
"The 4G ministers have decided that Swee Keat will be their leader... and the MPs have endorsed this conclusion. The party's position is clear."
Mr Lee, 66, had previously said he hoped to hand over the post of PM to his successor by the time he turns 70 in 2022. The next election must be called by January 2021.
Mr Lee also indicated how the fourth generation of leaders would take the lead in the coming election. They will do so by setting the party's agenda, working out its policies, preparing the manifesto, making the pitch to the public, actively campaigning and organising the election, he said.
"The 4G will be very much in the thick of things. Even in the last election, they were very actively involved in organising although... I was more prominently making the pitch," Mr Lee said.
"I'm still the leader, so in the next election, I will be the leader and I will lead the party into the election. But the content of the policies and how they are presented, and what they want to do, I think the young ministers will have a lot to say about that."
Mr Heng said the 4G ministers will launch a series of discussions with different groups of Singaporeans after the Budget. These will build on the Our Singapore Conversation feedback drive he led in 2013, he added.
"We want to have some time to look at what are some of the fundamental, long-term issues that as a country, as a society, we need to address."
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