Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Thursday that the Government is setting aside a further $48.4 billion to support businesses, workers and families in the Republic during the Coronavirus crisis which the country is currently facing.
During the parliamentary session, Heng told the House, "This is a landmark package, and a necessary response to a unique situation."
It should be noted that the additional $48 billion amounts to nearly half of the Singapore Government's $106 billion Budget for the financial year 2020. It is more than double the $20.5 billion Resilience Package which was announced in the 2009 Budget to tackle the global financial crisis.
Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin delivered President Halimah Yacob's message on her behalf in Parliament and said the second support package to tackle Covid-19 is a substantial one which exceeds the current reserves accumulated in this term of government.
"Our reserves were built up over the years through prudent spending and were set aside precisely to cater for rainy days. The situation we are heading into looks more like a thunderstorm and not just a drizzle," read the message from Singapore President.
Minister Heng delivered the "Resilience Budget" in the parliament considering the current outbreak in the city-state which has reported 631 cases of COVID-19. Earlier during the 2009 global financial crisis, President S R Nathan approved a draw of $4.9 billion to fund support measures.
The Government has decided to protect and advance the well-being and livelihoods of Singaporeans and said they will stand with the citizens of "all walks of life to battle this crisis. Together, we can ride through this storm, and emerge even stronger."
Minister Heng added that "The Government will lead the way. We will do our best to anticipate and respond, make decisions based on facts and evidence, and exercise judgement when there are trade-offs."
It should be noted that the Government have obtained the President Halimah Yacob's in-principle approval to draw up to $17 billion to fund some of the measures introduced in the Resilience Budget to save jobs and country's economy.
Minister Heng mentioned that during the COVID-19 crisis $145 to be set aside for new schemes and increase flexibility for ComCare. The Government announced that they will double the grant for the self-help group and they will adopt digital tools to reach out to vulnerable people. "Jobs will be protected, workers supported and livelihood protected," said DPM Heng.
"We will provide additional help to specific sectors that are most directly affected by COVID-19, such as sectors that rely on tourism and international travel.
"We will support Singaporean households by enhancing the Care and Support Package, strengthening the network of support around our workers and families, and exercise greater flexibility on fees and loans during this period.
"Our immediate priority is to save jobs, support our workers, and protect livelihoods. Over one-third of the Resilience Budget is dedicated to this."
At the end, DPM Heng said, "Come what may, no matter how daunting the challenge at hand, we will bounce back, stronger and more united than ever as we weather this storm together."