The Government’s second stimulus package will focus on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and workers, particularly among the most vulnerable such as the self-employed and those who have been retrenched, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, wrote in a Facebook post that the second stimulus package is a part of the Government’s efforts to stabilise Singapore’s economy in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Future Economy Council’s Emerging Stronger Taskforce, he said, will continue looking into ways to “to transform, to innovate, and to grow” Singapore’s economy in the midst of this challenging period.
His comments were made following a roundtable discussion on Budget 2020 organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times on Wed (11 Mar).
In the roundtable discussion, Mr Heng said that the Government is not ruling out the need to utilise past reserves to fund the second support package to combat the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
He noted that the COVID-19 situation has been worsening in the few weeks following his Budget announcement.
Mr Heng said that he has discussed with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on key measures to be incorporated in the second package.
When queried about whether tapping past reserves will be part of the government’s plan, Mr Heng said that “this is an option that we are looking at very carefully”.
To do so, approval must be obtained from the Council of Presidential Advisers as well as the President herself, he added.
The current term of government has “a sizeable amount of current reserves”, said Mr Heng, adding that it is “not ruling out the use of past reserves”. Currently there is a surplus of around S$7.7 billion.
Mr Heng pointed out that similar to the Budget’s S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package, the second stimulus package will primarily provide help for businesses, by helping them to transform and grow, allowing companies to “not just survive but prepare for the upturn”.
In response to a query by roundtable panellist and Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Faizal bin Yahya on whether the extra assistance would be for specific affected sectors, Mr Heng said that the Government will “take both a targeted and a broad-based approach”.
The interlinked nature of the economy means that workers that remain employed will continue to consume, which helps related sectors grow, Mr Heng added. Measures to improve public hygiene such as SG Clean, for example, can encourage public spending and improve consumer confidence, he said.