Coronavirus: Resilience Budget will save jobs, support firms as S’pore faces biggest challenge in over a decade: Heng Swee Keat

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said it is key for all Singaporeans to do their part and "make the best use of what we have". ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - The supplementary budget to be presented in Parliament on Thursday afternoon (March 26) is to be called the Resilience Budget, and it will help to save jobs and support companies, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

More will be given to those who have been hardest hit.

Households will also receive additional help to tide through this difficult period, he said.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Heng said that the coronavirus outbreak will be with Singapore for many months to come. "Our resilience as a country, as a society, is being put to the test as we face our biggest challenge in more than a decade."

What is key, he said, is for all Singaporeans to do their part and "make the best use of what we have".

"Various analysts and business leaders have been guessing about the size of the Budget, and its reach," he wrote.

"It is important not to have excessive expectations or merely focus on the headline numbers. What is more important is that all of us do our part and make the best use of whatever we have."

Grim economic data released on Thursday morning showed that Singapore's economy shrank 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year, and is headed for a full-year recession - its first in two decades. The Ministry of Trade and Industry downgraded its 2020 growth forecast to a range of -4 to -1 per cent.

Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance, said the Covid-19 global pandemic was Singapore's biggest challenge after the global financial crisis in 2008-2009.

"I still remember vividly the global financial crisis in 2008, when I was heading up the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Those were dark days, but we bounced back," he said.

"This time around, we face not just an economic crisis, but also a global pandemic."

Mr Heng assured Singaporeans that the Resilience Budget to be presented at 3.30pm in Parliament will give people much-needed economic support.

This second stimulus plan is in addition to the more than $6 billion that has already been set aside in the February budget, called the Unity Budget, to help Singaporeans grapple with the economic fallout from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Measures announced then include a $4 billion package to keep workers in jobs and help companies with cash flow, $1.6 billion for a one-time payout to every Singaporean aged 21 and above and $800 million to support front-line agencies fighting the outbreak.

"Together, we can weather the storm and emerge stronger as one Singapore," said Mr Heng.

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