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Giving support amid Covid-19 includes considering use of reserves "if necessary": President Halimah

WITH worsening global conditions amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, Singapore's support efforts may involve considering the use of past reserves, if necessary, said President Halimah Yacob in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"If our public health is at stake and our people’s welfare affected, we need to do the necessary," she added.

At the ST-BT Budget Roundtable 2020 earlier on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had said that the government is working on a second stimulus package and is "not ruling out" the use of past reserves to fund it.

Mdm Halimah noted that since the Budget was debated in Parliament, the global situation has worsened, with the virus spreading rapidly to more countries and health experts warning that it will take many months before it runs its course. Crashing oil prices have seriously aggravated the situation, she added.

This will have an impact on Singapore too, with many firms suffering from disrupted supply chains, rapidly falling demand and tightening cash flows, while fear and loss of confidence have gripped financial markets around the world.

"In such a situation, we must do our utmost to support our people and our businesses, including considering using the past reserves if necessary," she said.

She added that the government has been keeping her and the Council of Presidential Advisers updated, "and we are monitoring the situation closely". Mdm Halimah and the Council will have to give their assent for any use of past reserves.