S'poreans to get help to manage cost of living, more Covid-19 support in Budget 2022: Lawrence Wong

Singapore's economy shrank by more than 5 per cent - the worst decline since independence - when the circuit breaker was implemented in 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Budget, to be announced on Feb 18, will continue to provide support for sectors that face difficulties amid the Covid-19 pandemic and help Singaporeans manage concerns over the cost of living, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (Feb 3).

At the same time, it will also focus on measures that will put Singapore in a stronger position after the pandemic, he said.

The measures include building new capabilities for the future, growing and transforming Singapore's economy to create good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans, and strengthening the country's social support system to help Singaporeans cope with life's uncertainties.

The Government also aims to forge a fairer, more inclusive and greener home for present and future generations, said Mr Wong.

He was speaking at the Spring Reception virtual event organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA).

He also noted that Singapore is in a much better position today than two years ago, when the Covid-19 virus first emerged.

Singapore's economy shrank by more than 5 per cent - the worst decline since independence - when the circuit breaker was implemented in 2020.

Last year, the Delta variant wave prompted Singapore to go into heightened alert and tighten restrictions. This year, the country is experiencing the Omicron wave, but there is no tightening of existing measures and the vast majority of vaccinated people in Singapore have only mild symptoms.

"With each wave, we have strengthened our defences and become more resilient. So I am confident that in this Year of the Tiger, we will be able to make further progress in our journey towards living with Covid-19," Mr Wong said.

Mr Thomas Pek, the immediate past president and honorary life president of the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association, was at the virtual event and welcomed the news on the Budget.

He said that many businesses continue to be hit by rising operational costs because of increased utilities, supply chain and freight charges.

"Though the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, it is a long battle. I hope and believe that the Budget can help businesses and citizens breathe a little easier."

At the same event, Mr Wong thanked the SFCCA and SCCC for their continuous efforts in promoting Chinese culture and heritage, helping the needy, and grooming a new generation of bilingual and bicultural talent during the pandemic.

SFCCA president Thomas Chua, in his address, said that the federation conducted a survey in the fourth quarter of 2021 to better understand the needs of its member associations. Based on the findings, only 39 per cent of the participating member associations have a youth committee, and 27 per cent have a women's group.

He said: "Our youth are the successors of the clan associations, while women form the core of family and are an important pillar of social cohesion. With the work-from-home arrangement, many... have become accustomed to browsing the Web and utilising it for communication."

He added that establishing youth committees and women's groups will allow the associations to better organise activities suited for these two segments.

He also encouraged the member associations to leverage digital technology during the pandemic, including setting up their official websites, organising virtual activities, preserving valuable historical materials and tapping SFCCA's customer relationship management system.

Apart from digital transformation, SFCCA will also engage in philanthropic and charitable projects to strengthen social cohesion and interracial cooperation. It will be organising a large-scale event later this year, where member associations and community partners from different ethnic groups can come together to help protect Singapore's ecosystem.

Mr Chua Thian Poh, chairman of SCCC and honorary president of SFCCA, said that to celebrate its fifth anniversary, the SCCC will be organising a variety of programmes and making them more inclusive. It will also be upgrading its barrier-free facilities to improve accessibility for patrons with disabilities.

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