As emergency financial measures introduced to fight the coronavirus pandemic near their use-by date, a process of weaning business and society off them has to begin. This has to balance several imperatives, all of which are important in themselves. These are the overall need for macroeconomic stability, which includes viable spending policies that do not drain government funds, the need for a trained and skilled workforce that has not become overly dependent on such support, and social cohesiveness which demands that no family is left in the lurch. The decision made or required on one front may exact a cost elsewhere. But a solution cannot be avoided. These are challenges Singapore will have to start to meet soon.
A key task awaits the Monetary Authority of Singapore in this regard as it works with banks on how to wean companies and individuals off some of the relief measures that were rolled out. There is no doubt that the measures, on which the central bank worked with the financial industry, have done much to keep companies and individuals afloat in turbulent waters. However, such protective initiatives cannot become permanent because they would skew the workings of the financial system in unfair and, ultimately, unsustainable ways. A time has to come when companies and individuals that have taken up the reliefs, which include debt moratoriums on mortgage payments, must begin to make repayments.