Friday, 22 September 2023

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Singapore will prepare a ‘Strong Package’ against virus fallout in next week’s budget presentation, says Lawrence Wong

Singapore is set to unveil a “strong” economic package in the coming national budget as part of effort to ease the economic fallout over the coronavirus outbreak.

During a TV interview with Bloomberg, the Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong who also is the co-chairman of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, said that China’s economy being much bigger today –more consumption and service oriented has a significant impact on the current situation.

He added that the supply chains have been disrupted due to China’s economic slowdown and this has caused a blow in the global economy.

On top of the global economy fallout, Mr Wong noted that Singapore “will surely be impacted”.

“We know there is an economic impact already. The specific sectors are feeling it – tourism, hospitality. But beyond these specific sectors, we think the broader knock on impact can be quite severe as well,” said Mr Wong.

In response to how the government’s budget will tackle the virus outbreak, Mr Wong said that they are preparing a strong package in the budget to help company as well as employees to stay in their jobs.

It was noted that Singapore budget 2020 will be announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat next week on 18 February.

Moving on, Mr Wong refused to reveal the size of the economic package when he was queried by the media about whether the package will be bigger than the $230 million SARS relief package which unveiled during 2003 pandemic.

Later, when responding to question about the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level being raised, Mr Wong commented that government has to heighten alert and take more precautions due to the increase of locally-transmitted cases.

He said that the situation will be under control and eventually plateau if that move is successful.

“If it continues to worsen, then we will not rule out more stringent measures later on,” he added, a point he made during the press conference earlier to announce the heightening of the DORSCON level last Friday.

Mr Wong also mentioned that no matter the color code of DORSCON level, the more important thing is additional measures that can be taken such as social distancing and suspension of schools in order to minimise further spread of the virus.

Mr Wong also said that people have to be mentally prepared for the possibility that the critically ill patient might take a turn for the worse, as there is a chance that a fatality may happen, especially if someone has co-morbidity as can be seen in cases in China or other countries.

When asked if this would affect the timing of the next General Election, he said: “I think that’s a completely different matter. Our single focus now should be and indeed to contain the spread of the virus.”

However, the government has to hold the next GE by April next year. Furthermore, it has been half a year since the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee formed last August and the reviewed boundaries have yet to be announced. This makes the review longer than the reviews conducted by the past committees — at least in the last twenty years.

As of Tuesday (11 Feb), Ministry of Health stated that a total of 47 cases have been confirmed infected with Covid-19 in Singapore. Of these, 25 cases are locally human-to-human transmitted.

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