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DPM Heng in talks with business and union leaders on effectiveness of support measures to save jobs

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been meeting business and union leaders over the past two days to discuss the effectiveness of the support measures that were rolled out in the last few months to save jobs, according to his Facebook post on Wednesday night.

This comes on the back of Singapore’s worst-ever quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) performance in Q2, with the impact on the labour market likely to deepen on the back of the pandemic-fuelled crisis, he noted.

The talks were carried out together with other office holders and union leaders Josephine Teo, Low Yen Ling and Ng Chee Meng.

Some support schemes, such as the Jobs Support Scheme where the government subsidises wages to help companies retain local workers, are set to end soon.

“Participants acknowledged that these schemes cannot continue indefinitely, but asked how support for our businesses and workers will change in the coming months,” he wrote. “I assured them of our continued commitment to support our workers and companies”.

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He added that he has been having “intensive discussions” with government agencies to review and evolve these schemes as the situation develops.

Mr Heng observed that the gravity of the economic situation weighed heavily on the minds of business and union leaders, but he was “heartened” that they saw opportunities and possibilities even in the midst of a crisis.

He observed that some are pivoting away from their current businesses to new areas that played to their core strengths, while many have accelerated their digitalisation plans and are offering more services online.

These companies are also reskilling their workers and redesigning jobs to seize these new opportunities, he said.

“The road ahead will be tough, but with determination and a spirit of enterprise and collaboration, we can come out of this crisis stronger,” wrote Mr Heng.  

Singapore’s GDP shrank by 13.2 per cent year on year in Q2, with the overall economy expected to decline by between 5 per cent and 7 per cent this year. More fiscal stimulus is expected to be on the way, with Mr Heng likely to announce more targeted support schemes soon.

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