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Singapore announces USD 5.8 billion to boost COVID-19 hit economy

News Agencies | Updated on: 18 August 2020, 7:31 IST

Singapore has announced USD 5.8 billion to extend a wage subsidy programme to next March, as most sectors continue to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, reported South China Morning Post.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat believe that this announcement will help the companies to retain their workers.

South China Morning Post reported that unemployment here stands at 2.9 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent in the January-March period and not far off the 3.4 per cent peak during the Global Financial Crisis.

"[The scheme] draws heavily on our reserves and risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses," Heng was quoted as saying.

He further said that USD 5.8 billion plan, apart from the four sets of stimulus that were announced between February and May, would be financed with the reallocation of funds from "other areas such as development expenditures that were delayed by COVID-19".

South China Morning Post also reported that the aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors would be provided with a government offset of 50 per cent of the first S$4,600 of workers' monthly wages until next March.

"Some sectors are also recovering faster than others. I will, therefore, adjust support based on the projected recovery of the different sectors," he said.

Besides the wage subsidy boost, the other measures included "SingapoRediscovers" vouchers worth S$320 million that citizens can spend in the local tourism sector.

"Local consumption will not fully make up for tourist spending, but I hope Singaporeans will take the opportunity to explore our local culture and heritage, nature, art, and architecture," he added.

South China Morning Post that the government, last week, had downgraded its GDP forecast to between -7 and -5 per cent from between -4 and -7 per cent after the trade-reliant economy shrank 13.2 per cent in the second quarter - more than the 12.6 per cent drop expected.


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First published: 18 August 2020, 7:31 IST