SINGAPORE: Singapore has unveiled a third budget worth S$5.1 bil (RM15.53 bil) in a further move to save jobs and protect the livelihood of its citizens as it embarks on a one-month nationwide circuit breaker (restricted movement) against the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning tomorrow.
Of the allocation, S$4 bil will go towards additional support for businesses and workers and S$1.1 bil will be for Solidarity Payments to citizens.
Tabling the budget today, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said it would help businesses preserve their capacity and capabilities, and to resume activities when the circuit breaker is lifted.
On April 3, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the implementation of the circuit breaker, an elevated set of safe distancing measures that would see the closure of most workplaces, among others.
Earlier on March 26, Singapore introduced a supplementary “Resilience Budget” worth S$48 bil to help its people tide over the Covid-19 crisis.
The budget focused on providing aid to workers and businesses, particularly those hardest hit by the pandemic, and strengthening economic and social resilience.
The government planned to draw S$17 bil from Singapore’s past reserves to fund part of the supplementary budget.
Meanwhile, Heng, who is also the finance minister, said he had sought and obtained the President’s support in principle to draw up to S$4 bil for the third budget from past reserves.
“Specifically, this will be used to fund the enhanced Job Support Scheme, the enhanced Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, the Enterprise Financing Scheme and the Solidarity Payment to Singaporeans,” he added.
He said the remaining S$1.1 bil would be funded by the fiscal space of the current term of government.
Altogether, the Singapore government’s measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic comes to a total of S$59.9 bil, or about 12% of the republic’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Heng said Singapore’s overall budget deficit for financial year 2020 is expected to increase to S$44.3 bil or 8.9% of GDP.
“This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times. The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The government stands ready to provide further support, should it become necessary,” he added. - April 6, 2020, Bernama