$13.8 billion spent by Singapore Govt on Covid-19 response operations

The sum was used to secure critical medical and emergency supplies such as personal protective equipment.
The sum was used to secure critical medical and emergency supplies such as personal protective equipment.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A total of $13.8 billion was allocated for Covid-19 response operations by the Government in last year's budget, including $10 billion for medical and emergency operations and supplies, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Feb 1).

In a written reply to a question filed by Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai, Mr Heng said the $10 billion was for expenditure that included the expansion of testing capacity, clinical management of Covid-19 patients, and for building contact tracing capabilities.

The sum, allocated to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was also used to secure critical medical and emergency supplies such as personal protective equipment.

Mr Leong asked for a breakdown of the 2020 Budget for items that total $100 million and above, as well as for the ministries and contractors involved in these expenditures.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said a further $2.9 billion was set aside for the Ministry of National Development to set up and operate quarantine and dedicated stay-home notice facilities. This sum was also used to build new dormitories for foreign workers to reduce the population density and spread of infection.

Another $900 million was given to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to manage the Covid-19 outbreak in dormitories.

The total sum of $13.8 billion given to these four ministries was part of the $97.3 billion the Government committed over five Budgets last year to support the economy and society in fighting the pandemic, said Mr Heng. Up to $52 billion was drawn from the reserves.

More than 85 per cent of the $97.3 billion comprised direct transfers, grants and loans to eligible individuals, businesses and households, such as the Jobs Support Scheme - which gives employers wage offsets - and the Solidarity Payment, which gave all adult Singaporeans $600 in cash.

For medical and emergency supplies, Mr Heng said 10 agencies awarded contracts to more than 100 suppliers for the provision of equipment and services.

For Covid-19-related facilities such as quarantine facilities, temporary housing for migrant workers, as well as transport arrangements, 13 agencies engaged more than 150 supplies for their services.

The MOM also awarded contracts to more than 150 suppliers to provide food and telecommunications, among other things, to manage the impact of the outbreak in dormitories.

Mr Heng said that the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and global shortages meant there was a need to act swiftly in procuring goods and services.

"Agencies took care to engage suppliers and evaluate them on who could best meet the requirements while offering value for money. This includes using established contracts as well as establishing new links to diversify and secure emergency supplies that were in short supply globally," he added.