Parliament: Steps to contain potential economic impact

A health official at Yogyakarta airport checking the temperature of a passenger arriving from Singapore on Sept 2, after Zika cases were reported in the Republic.
A health official at Yogyakarta airport checking the temperature of a passenger arriving from Singapore on Sept 2, after Zika cases were reported in the Republic.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It is "premature" to determine the impact the Zika virus has had on travel to Singapore and the Republic's economy, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann said yesterday.

But the Government is taking "strong coordinated actions" to contain the Zika outbreak and any potential economic impact, she told Parliament.

She was responding to questions by Nominated MPs Randolph Tan and Thomas Chua, on the strategies the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is putting in place to limit the impact of the virus.

Ms Sim said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), for example, is working closely with travel trade and tourism partners to address concerns from potential visitors, despite Zika's impact on visitor arrivals being "currently contained".

Staff at STB's Call Centre and Singapore Visitor Centre have also been monitoring daily visitor feedback and responding to queries on the Zika outbreak.

Ms Sim said it is too early to consider Zika-specific support measures for businesses, but said they can tap existing schemes if needed.

For example, small and medium-sized enterprises facing short- term cash flow issues can apply for loans of up to $300,000 under the Working Capital Loan programme administered by Spring Singapore.

Spring is also working with the Singapore Business Federation to help firms develop business continuity plans, to ensure they are able to adapt if operations are disrupted.

 

"MTI and its agencies will continue to closely monitor developments through the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency, and are prepared to develop and activate further support for businesses should these prove necessary," said Ms Sim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Steps to contain potential economic impact'. Print Edition | Subscribe