President Halimah Yacob approves Budget, including $11b draw on reserves

President Halimah Yacob consulted the Council of Presidential Advisers before giving her assent to the Supply Bill. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob on Tuesday (March 16) formally approved the draw of up to $11 billion from past reserves to fund measures needed to fight Covid-19, saying that this would allow Singapore to support workers and businesses as it works towards reopening safely amid the pandemic.

In a Facebook post announcing her approval of the Government's Budget, she added: "While the outlook is still uncertain, I am confident that if we continue to stay united as one, Singapore will come through this crisis stronger and ready for the future."

The Government's spending plans were approved in Parliament on March 8, after MPs spent nine days scrutinising the Government's and individual ministries' budgets. This comprised $107 billion of spending in total for the 2021 financial year.

Noting that this is the first time Singapore has had to draw on past reserves in two consecutive financial years, the President said: "Managing a pandemic of such a scale necessitates more resources to mitigate a plunge in our economy.

"Fortunately for us, our reserves framework provides for us to tap on past reserves in such a scenario, so that the Government can continue to take decisive actions in cushioning the impact of the pandemic on our people."

The $11 billion will go towards funding the Covid-19 Resilience Package, which covers public health and safe reopening measures, including vaccination, continued support for firms and workers, and targeted support for worst-hit sectors such as aviation.

Together with the amount approved last year, the total draw on the reserves will come to $53.7 billion.

President Halimah said she had consulted the Council of Presidential Advisers before giving her assent to the Supply Bill.

She had also taken into consideration the detailed briefing in January on the Budget by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and the Ministry of Finance, and had exercised her discretionary power provided for under the Constitution, she added.

Her assent paves the way for the Supply Bill to become law, and it will control how much the Government is allowed to spend, and on what, in the financial year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.