Singapore unveils $3.5 billion in economic spending to combat coronavirus


Posted at Apr 06 2020 07:58 PM

Singapore unveils $3.5 billion in economic spending to combat coronavirus 1
A watch showing the time at noon, is displayed for a photo in front of Merlion Park, which is almost empty, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore, March 31, 2020. Edgar Su, Reuters

SINGAPORE - Singapore announced S$5.1 billion ($3.55 billion) in additional economic spending such as wage support, waiver of levies and one-off payments to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times," Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told parliament on Monday, just over a week after the city-state unveiled more than $30 billion in new support measures as it braces for its worst recession.

On Friday, Singapore said it will close schools and most workplaces for a month as part of stricter measures to curb a recent jump in coronavirus infections. Singapore has reported a total of 1,309 infections and six deaths from the coronavirus.

Heng said the new measures unveiled in the third budget will increase the total spending on coronavirus relief to S$59.9 bln or 12% of gross domestic product (GDP). He said Singapore will draw an additional S$4 billion from its past reserves to fund the new measures.

"The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The government stands ready to provide further support should it become necessary," Heng said.

Heng said Singapore's overall budget deficit for financial year 2020 is expected to increase to S$44.3 billion, or 8.9% of GDP. ($1 = 1.4356 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by John Geddie and Aradhana Aravindan; Writing by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Raju Gopalakrishnan)