By Massita Ahmad
SINGAPORE, March 26 -- Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has unveiled a Supplementary Budget of S$48 billion to strengthen the republic’s economy in the midst of COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious crisis we have faced in a generation. It has put all countries around the world to the test -- on the medical, economic, and social fronts,” he said when tabling the Budget in Parliament here today.
Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said the republic will draw up to S$17 billion from its Past Reserves to partly fund the Budget.
Singapore has drawn on its Past Reserves only once, during the Global Financial Crisis, with the requested amount of S$4.9 billion, he said.
During the 2020 Budget in February, Singapore announced S$6.4 billion towards the stabilisation and support package, the care and support package, and support for its frontline agencies.
Altogether, Heng said Singapore is dedicating close to S$55 billion to support its people, accounting for 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“This is a landmark package, and a necessary response to a unique situation,” he said.
Called “Resilience Budget”, it focuses on three key areas, namely to save jobs, support workers, and protect livelihoods; help enterprises overcome immediate challenges; and strengthen economic and social resilience.
Based on advance GDP estimates released this morning, in the first quarter, the Singapore economy contracted by 10.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter, or 2.2 per cent year-on-year, reversing the 0.6 per cent growth in the previous quarter.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry further downgraded Singapore’s GDP growth forecast for 2020, from a range of -0.5 per cent to 1.5% announced last month to between -4.0 per cent and -1.0 per cent.
Malaysia National News Agency
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