HELP’S AT HAND: THREE VIEWS ON THE BUDGET

Budget sets out three big, audacious goals for future

Those expecting a fire-powered Budget to tackle the ongoing coronavirus outbreak would not be disappointed: $800 million more will be set aside for the Health Ministry to fight the virus and two packages totalling $5.6 billion will be rolled out to help cushion businesses, workers and individuals from the economic impact of the outbreak. As Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat explained, this is an expansionary Budget for challenging times.

The Government will end the financial year 2019 with an overall deficit of $1.7 billion, which amounts to 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). For FY2020, there is a projected overall Budget deficit of $10.9 billion, or 2.1 per cent of GDP. This is just an estimate and the actual figure may be smaller. If realised, the deficit would be the largest sum since FY1992. As a percentage of GDP, it would be close to the 2001 deficit (1.7 per cent of GDP).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2020, with the headline 'Budget sets out three big, audacious goals for future'. Print Edition | Subscribe