President Halimah gives assent to additional $2 billion in Covid-19 support measures

President Halimah Yacob gave her assent to the FY2021 Supplementary Supply Bill on Aug 19, 2021. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob has given the go-ahead to fund more than $2 billion in additional support to cushion the impact of Covid-19 on Singaporeans and businesses.

She gave her assent to the FY2021 Supplementary Supply Bill on Thursday (August 19), a move which formally authorises and provides for the support measures announced by the Government in July.

"The disease is still wreaking havoc in many countries around the world. Even countries that started vaccinating their people early and, for a time, managed to curb the spread of infections, are now seeing a resurgence," President Halimah wrote in a Facebook post.

"Many governments are also looking at how to reopen their economies safely, as the pandemic has not only affected the health but also the livelihoods of their people."

Madam Halimah added that while Singapore has managed to keep the pandemic relatively under control, and is looking at a phased, careful and safe reopening, the rate of vaccination is critical.

She said she was particularly heartened that more than three-quarters of the population are now fully vaccinated, and strongly urged those who have not yet received their jabs to do so for the safety of themselves and others.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong had announced on July 26 that more than $2 billion would be set aside to support workers and businesses grappling with the impact of tighter Covid-19 restrictions since May.

The measures include enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme of wage subsidies, rental relief for commercial properties, and help for workers, taxi and private hire car drivers, as well as market and hawker stallholders.

Mr Wong had given a ministerial statement in Parliament shortly before he introduced the Supplementary Supply Bill, to effect a reallocation of funds for the measures.

He had said that since the support package will be funded via reallocation of funds, Singapore's overall fiscal position for financial year 2021 is expected to remain unchanged, with an overall deficit of $11 billion, or 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product.

Madam Halimah noted the Government's assurance that this Bill will not require any additional draw on past reserves.

"Our Government's sound and prudent management of our resources has enabled us to quickly mobilise funds to support the needs of our economy and people," she said.

"The number and scale of the support measures have been unprecedented and have greatly mitigated the hardship that many would have otherwise experienced."

She said that as Singapore celebrated its 56th National Day, for a second year it has had to drastically scale down the celebrations.

But the sense of pride and commitment to Singapore and solidarity with each other is palpable, she added.

"We will need that same strong spirit to overcome this pandemic."

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