Singapore To Boost Virus-Hit Economy With $33-Billion Emergency Package
Mar 26, 2020

The Singapore government has earmarked another 48 billion Singapore dollars ($33.2billion) to support its businesses and households after official preliminary estimates showed the Southeast Asian economy shrinking by more than expected in the first quarter of this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The additional spending on stimulus came just a month after the country announced $4.4 billion of economic and health-care measures to navigate through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that is disrupting economies all over the world. Together, the two support packages account for around 11 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.

“This is a landmark package and necessary response to a unique situation,” Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, said in a speech in parliament on March 26. Heng said the government will use up to $11.8 billion from the country’s reserves while the rest comes from current revenue.

The emergency aid package will mainly support workers and help saving jobs in corporations and small and medium businesses. The jobs support scheme, introduced on February 18 to help retain local workers, will be enhanced and extended, bringing the total support to $10.5 billion for over 1.9 million employees.

Airlines, tourism, workers get support

The aviation and tourism sectors will have 75 per cent of wages supported, while food services will get 50 per cent. Eligible self-employed Singaporeans will get monthly cash handouts for nine months, and payouts for lower-income workers will be increased.

About 10,000 new jobs will be created over the next year under a government job initiative. It includes jobs for emerging areas in the public sector, long-term roles in essential services, and also short-term jobs to handle the coronavirus crisis. There will also be private sector jobs from firms recruiting due to short-term manpower issues, or in preparation for the eventual recovery.

Singapore’s economy shrank 2.2 per cent on the year in the first quarter, marking what may be the first in a series of quarterly contractions as Southeast Asia reels from the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. For the full year, the city state is on course for a recession in 2020, almost two decades since its last one.