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Budget 2020: Government to pump S$6.4b into virus support measures

Of this sum, S$800 million will go into supporting frontline agencies in their efforts to contain the outbreak.

SINGAPORE will set aside a total of S$6.4 billion for measures in view of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said at the start of his Budget speech on Tuesday.

Of this sum, S$800 million will go into supporting frontline agencies in their efforts to contain the outbreak, on top of the “substantial resources” already committed each year to public health, Mr Heng said. The bulk of the amount will go to the Ministry of Health.

In addition, the government will introduce two special packages with a total budget of S$5.6 billion to alleviate the impact of the virus on businesses and jobs.

The first is the Stabilisation and Support Package amounting to S$4 billion. This is meant to stabilise Singapore’s economy and support workers and enterprises. It will help workers stay in their jobs while helping enterprises with cash flow, Mr Heng said. Sectors more directly affected by the outbreak will receive additional help.

The second is the Care and Support Package for households, totalling S$1.6 billion. This is on top of measures introduced in every Budget to support families. The special package will provide households with “additional, timely” help with living expenses amid the slowdown from the Covid-19 outbreak, he added. The less well-off will get more help.

Mr Heng noted that the virus hit Singapore just as the global economy was starting to recover.

“The outbreak will certainly impact our economy. The tourism and aviation industries are most directly affected. Visitor arrivals to Singapore and air traffic through Changi have declined,” he said, and this decline has in turn affected hotel occupancy rates.

The virus outbreak has also disrupted supply chains and its effects are rippling through various sectors, especially now that Singapore's economy has far more links with China’s.

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