In view of the rapidly evolving situation of coronavirus (Covid-19), Ministry of Finance (MOF) has been putting relentless effort to track the outbreak situation, listening to Singaporeans’ suggestions, and coming up with the budget support measures that were not on the table one month ago, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (17 Feb).
The finance minister said that Singapore is able to act quickly and decisively in dealing with the unexpected situation because of the national deep reserves, which is not only in financial but also include the reserves of strength, resilience, empathy, and resourcefulness among public servants and Singaporeans.
“If we did not possess such qualities, we could not stay united through this crisis and emerge stronger,” Mr Heng wrote in his Facebook post.
Mr Heng also said that Singapore will be having worse financial and psychological situation without those reserves.
Mr Heng further explained that instead of working to stabilise the economy and support the people, their team will be lying awake trying to project how will the coronavirus outbreak badly affected them.
As the outbreak of the coronavirus, Mr Heng noted that this year’s budget details could not be settled as early as possible which they usually do.
Mr Heng said that many young MOF officers have asked for understanding from their parents and worked with the team through the night and over the weekend, of which they could spend their Valentine’s Day with the loved ones initially.
He wrote, “I am proud of our public officers, who are working selflessly on the frontline and in the backrooms. I am moved by our people whose acts of kindness and compassion inspire us,” while grateful for the deep reserves–finances, friendship, care, and grit that Singapore possesses.
Mr Heng also urged Singaporeans to not take for granted the reserves of strength which built from the efforts and sacrifices of preceding generations over the years.
“These can be squandered easily. I urge all of you, my fellow Singaporeans, to never forget but treasure what we have inherited,” he wrote.
Noting on the concern of coronavirus outbreak could disrupt the budget, Mr Heng pointed out that Singaporeans could see the outbreak “as a spur and a test” to prompt them to do the best for all people.
“It is a test for us to show that we can rise to the challenge, and be worthy of the generations who came before us, and future generations to come,” he wrote.
Last Sunday (16 Feb), Mr Heng said that government will introduce broad-based measures in Budget 2020 which include wage support, tax rebates and rental waivers to help companies and economic sectors amid the COVID-19 crisis.
He mentioned that company facing cash flow issues will be aided through tax rebates and rental waivers which will be announced today (18 Feb) at 3pm.
The budget speech live can be watch at MOF Budget website.