Singapore extends lifebuoy amid COVID-19-induced economic crisis

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 17 2020 07:43 PM

SINGAPORE - Singapore's government announced Monday that it will extend another S$8 billion (US$5.8 billion) of fiscal support to prop up the economy amid the protracted crisis caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the government will pump in the money on top of the nearly S$100 billion it had already committed to support workers and businesses.

The wealthy city-state appears to have contained the pandemic with daily numbers tapering off. The Health Ministry reported another 91 cases on Monday, most of them migrant workers. So far, there have been about 56,000 cases in Singapore and only 27 deaths.

However, it has experienced its worst quarterly performance on record, a 13.2 percent contraction year-on-year in the second quarter while the government is projecting that the economy will contract by between 5 to 7 percent.

Noting that the global economy remains very weak, Heng said the government will continue to support jobs and sectors in Singapore, which have been hardest hit.

This includes extending by seven months up to March next year a Jobs Support Scheme that has already disbursed S$16 billion to 2 million local workers in over 150,000 firms.

But the support to be provided will be much less than before.

"We cannot sustain the JSS at current levels. It draws heavily on our reserves and risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses. Some sectors are also recovering faster than others," Heng said.

The government will extend the biggest help to firms in the aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors, which have been hardest hit, by supporting half of the monthly wages of workers in these sectors up to March next year.