Coronavirus: Self-employed may get boost in second stimulus package

Chan Chun Sing hints that workers in some manufacturing sectors could also benefit

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing speaking to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) deputy head keeper Jagan Thanapal during his visit to the Singapore Zoo yesterday, as Mandai Park Holdings group chief executive Mike Barclay and WRS chief h
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing speaking to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) deputy head keeper Jagan Thanapal during his visit to the Singapore Zoo yesterday, as Mandai Park Holdings group chief executive Mike Barclay and WRS chief human resources officer Marcus Heng looked on.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Workers in certain manufacturing sectors and the self-employed may be among those receiving a boost from the Government's additional stimulus package as the economy continues to reel from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing hinted at this on the sidelines of an event at the Singapore Zoo yesterday.

"This is a fast-evolving situation... We have to watch all the developments very carefully to calibrate the measures in order to help the various sectors that have been impacted," Mr Chan said.

He added: "The impact may be on certain sectors (about two, three weeks ago), but since then, there are also new developments that have impacted other sectors."

Tourism, retail, and food and beverage (F&B) industries had been hit first by the fallout from the virus, he said, adding that "as the situation evolves, there will be disruptions to the supply chains which will affect other sectors".

He made reference to the supply chains that support retail and F&B industries.

Mr Chan said: "We will continue to work closely with the trade associations, the unions (and) the many other stakeholders to make sure that we have the measures to help our companies go through this difficult patch."

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said last Wednesday that the Government was working on a second stimulus package on top of the $4 billion package that he announced during the Budget.

The aim of the additional package is to help workers keep their jobs, help small and medium-sized enterprises make the best out of the crisis and support retrenched workers.

Mr Chan said yesterday that many of the measures in the first package are being rolled out progressively.

"The impact is being felt progressively," he said.

 
 
 
 

"All the ministries and agencies are working hard to make sure that if and when there is a second package, we will have to take care of fellow Singaporeans' livelihoods."

Mandai Park Holdings group chief executive Mike Barclay, who said staff had benefited from the training measures that are part of the existing package, hopes that the Government can provide more help with staff costs with the next package.

"We are doing some work around specialist training for our keepers, our animal presenters... but anything that helps a bit with staff costs will really help attractions. We are very staff-heavy," he said.

Footfall at Wildlife Reserves Singapore's (WRS) parks, which include River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park, had fallen by about 70 per cent last month and this month, he said. Mandai Park Holdings is WRS' parent company.

Mr Barclay said: "It's not surprising because tourism has really dried up. But what we are seeing is a pleasing return of locals."

All four of the company's parks - including the zoo - have received the SG Clean certification, a campaign launched last month to raise public hygiene standards amid the virus outbreak.

Mr Barclay hopes that the certification will go some way in reassuring visitors.

"We are very particular about keeping our public spaces clean, and our animals are very safe. They have a whole team of vets looking after them and we are quite sure they are healthy," he said.

Mr Barclay added: "Our No. 1 priority is to keep jobs. We are really not in the business of laying people off... Anything that could just offset staff costs in the short term will be really helpful."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 15, 2020, with the headline 'Self-employed may get boost in second stimulus package'. Subscribe