Parliament: President Halimah approves extra $8 billion for Covid-19 support package

The extra funds will help the Government provide support in sectors most severely affected by the coronavirus ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob has formally assented to the third Supplementary Supply and Budget Adjustments Bill that provides for an extra $8 billion in Covid-19 support, said Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin when Parliament sat on Tuesday (Nov 3).

The Bill was introduced last month and 33 MPs aired their views during a two-day debate.

The extra funds will help the Government provide support in sectors most severely affected by the coronavirus, including helping workers through the Jobs Support Scheme and Workfare Special Payment.

President Halimah gave her assent to the Bill on Monday, she said in a Facebook post.

She said: "It authorises a reallocation of expenditure from areas with reduced spending, such as disruptions to development projects due to Covid-19.

"The Bill also includes some revenue foregone, but it does not result in a further draw on our past reserves beyond what I had given in-principle support for in March and May 2020."

The Government approved an unprecedented four budgets this year amid the Covid-19 crisis, amounting to nearly $100 billion.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has estimated that this sum will prevent the economy from contracting by a further 5.6 per cent of gross domestic product in 2020, and 4.8 per cent in 2021.

Economic support measures will also cushion the rise in resident unemployment rate by about 1.7 percentage points this year.

Wrapping up the debate on the Bill last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat touched on the importance of managing Singapore's dual identity as both city and nation.

As a city, it must remain open to new and exciting ideas but as a nation, it has to stay united and defend its independence, he said.

Now that the country is shifting its focus to economic recovery, it needs to stay open and connected to the wider world, Mr Heng added.

In her Facebook post on Monday, President Halimah said the Covid-19 situation has largely stabilised, with the number of cases now under control.

Even so, Singapore is still in the midst of battling the virus, she added.

She said: "With my assent to the Bill today, I hope the Government will continue its focus on supporting our people and businesses through these turbulent times."

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