Speaking in Parliament on Friday (5 June), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said that about 3,800 companies closed down in April, which is nearly equivalent to the average of 3,700 recorded in the same month over the past five years.
Nonetheless, Mr Chee warned that more businesses will cease operations in the coming months, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the country’s economy.
For the same reason, the formation of new businesses will “remain subdued”, he remarked.
According to Mr Chee, around 3,800 business entities were established in April, which is almost a third lower than the average of 5,500 recorded in the same period between 2015 and 2019 across most sectors.
He then noted that the pandemic is expected to have a “severe impact on many sectors” of Singapore’s economy for the rest of the year. Similarly, the outward-oriented sectors, which include wholesale trade, will be badly affected by the global economic slowdown.
Mr Chee added that air transport and tourism sectors will continue to suffer due to travel restrictions, while sectors such as retail and food services will also be hit by lower demand from tourists and local consumers.
However, he asserted that some sectors, such as biomedical manufacturing as well as information and communications, will continue to grow.
“These were happening even before COVID-19. But with COVID-19, we must expect the situation to worsen and these numbers to go up,” Mr Chee remarked.
He went on to say that the situation of firm closure and retrenchment is “not possible to avoid”.
Noting that the Government “will help every worker”, Mr Chee asserted that the National Jobs Council will provide about 100,000 opportunities to the job seekers via the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
Chaired by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the National Jobs Council held its first meeting on Wednesday (3 June) to discuss the priority areas for achieving the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package based on the consideration of the COVID-19 impact on the outlook for jobs.
The Council comprises 17 members, including Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education Indranee Rajah, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, as well as other labour and business associations’ representatives.