Singapore’s government has allocated another 8 billion Singapore dollars ($5.8 billion) to support the economy that has come under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said Monday.
“The resulting economic impact has been severe,” Heng, who’s also coordinating minister for economic policies, said in a televised address. He added that “the global economy remains very weak” and any recovery “will depend on how well countries contain the spread of the virus.”
Singapore reported one of the worst economic contractions in Asia for the first half of the year. Its open and trade-dependent economy has taken a hard hit, as lockdown measures around the world aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus halted much of global economic activity.
The Southeast Asian country last week reported a 13.2% year-over-year contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter — its worst on record, according to official statistics. The Singapore government expects the economy to shrink by between 5% and 7% this year, which would be its worst recession, official data showed.
Many of the support measures announced by the deputy prime minister on Monday are extensions of existing policies. They include:
- An extension of wage subsidies by seven months until March 2021. The amount of subsidies that companies can receive depends on the “projected recovery” of different sectors;
- An additional 187 million Singapore dollars ($136.5 million) in relief for the aviation sector;
- Cash payouts for unemployed Singaporeans or those who have suffered significant income loss, and low-wage workers.
Meanwhile, new measures announced by Heng include 320 million Singapore dollars in “tourism credits” for Singaporeans to encourage domestic tourism.
Before Monday’s support measures were announced, the Singapore government had already dug into its reserves to fund four fiscal stimulus packages worth close to 100 billion Singapore dollars, or around 20% of GDP.
Heng said Singapore will not draw on its reserves to fund the latest set of support.
“We intend to fund these measures by reallocating monies from other areas, such as development expenditures that were delayed due to Covid-19. There are no plans to draw on Past Reserves for these measures, beyond what was approved earlier,” he said.
Covid-19 is the formal name of the coronavirus disease.
Singapore was one of the earliest countries outside China to report cases of the coronavirus. As of Monday afternoon, the country reported more than 55,800 infections, according to its health ministry.