AmCham member firms in Singapore keeping headcount here despite coronavirus hit

People wearing masks walk around the Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore on Feb 12, 2020.
People wearing masks walk around the Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore on Feb 12, 2020.CREDITS: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - Even as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally, a large majority of member firms surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) say they are not permanently repatriating foreign staff to their home countries or laying off employees.

Most companies will see a hit to their business operations and revenues because of the outbreak, and many are changing their business plans for 2020.

Still, the 225 companies surveyed said the disruption is manageable, with many firms mitigating risk by cancelling staff travel, implementing precautionary protocols to protect their employees at work, and cancelling or postponing large-scale events.

Interestingly, the businesses surveyed said the perception of the situation in Singapore may be worse than the reality.

Thirty-five per cent of the respondents said that the situation on the ground is more under control than is perceived.

A resounding 98 per cent surveyed still remain confident in Singapore as a business destination.

One reason for the confidence is the Singapore Government's response to the outbreak. Almost all respondents believe the Government has been effective regarding health and safety updates.

Seventy-nine per cent believe the Government has been effective in addressing the potential economic impact.

But more effort needs to be made in the area of business preparedness.

Prior to the virus outbreak, less than half of the companies surveyed had a formal disease outbreak response plan in place. Even fewer are planning any changes to emergency preparedness protocols, even as half of the firms polled are in the stages of recovery planning at the time of the survey.