While the entire world is struggling to defeat the novel Coronavirus, which has claimed over 65,000 lives globally, Singapore announced $3.5 billion (S$5.1 billion) in additional economic spending on Monday. The new stimulus tranche will be used for wage support, waiver of levies and one-off payments to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times," Republic's Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told parliament. Singapore had unveiled more than $30 billion in new support measures just over a week ago.
Coronavirus in Singapore
As of now the Southeast Asian country has reported 1,309 COVID-19 cases, while the virus has killed six people. Earlier, when the government revealed 'Resilience Budget' on March 26 Deputy Prime Minister Heng mentioned that if the Coronavirus situation continues to get worse, the Singapore government will secure more funds to battle the Coronavirus.
On Friday, March 3, the government said it would close schools and most workplaces for a month as part of stricter measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the city-state.
Minister Heng said the new measures unveiled in the third budget will increase the total spending on coronavirus relief to S$59.9 billion or 12 percent of the GDP. He also mentioned that Singapore will draw an additional S$4 billion from its past reserves to fund the new measures.
"The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The government stands ready to provide further support should it become necessary," Heng said.
Heng said Singapore's overall budget deficit for the financial year 2020 is expected to increase to S$44.3 billion, or 8.9 percent of GDP.
Job support scheme
It should be noted that the government has encouraged the companies to retain local workers during the COVID-19 period. The government will also co-fund wages of workers for nine months in three payouts, which will be in April, July and October.
The government promised to provide 75 percent of wage support in Aviation and Tourism, 50 percent for food services and 25 percent for all other sectors.