Singapore announces $3.6bn in new support measures for economy

Singapore has announced 5.1 billion Singaporean dollars ($3.55bn) in additional economic spending, such as wage support, waiver of levies and one-off payments, to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times,” Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told parliament on Monday, just over a week after the city-state unveiled more than $30bn in new support measures as it braces for its worst recession.
On Friday, Singapore said it would close schools and most workplaces for a month as part of stricter measures to curb a recent jump in coronavirus infections. Singapore has reported a total of 1,309 infections and six deaths from the coronavirus.

Heng said the new measures unveiled in the third budget will increase the total spending on coronavirus relief to 59.9 billion Singaporean dollars ($41.8bn) or 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). He said Singapore will draw an additional 4 billion Singaporean dollars ($2.8bn) from its past reserves to fund the new measures.

Some of the new measures announced include an additional 300 Singaporean dollars ($209) in cash handouts for all adult Singaporeans, bringing total per individual to 600 Singaporean dollars ($418).

The Singapore government also increased wage subsidies for firms and waived its foreign worker levy for April.

“The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The government stands ready to provide further support should it become necessary,” Heng said.

Heng said Singapore’s overall budget deficit for the financial year 2020 is expected to increase to 44.3 billion Singaporean dollars ($30.9bn), or 8.9 percent of GDP.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues hurting economies globally, Japan is expected to announce its own stimulus package worth 60 trillion yen ($550bn) on Tuesday along with a six-month state of emergency, according to Japanese media.

A senior governing party official told reporters on Friday he has agreed with Abe to offer 300,000 yen ($2,800) in cash payments per household that suffers a certain degree of income falls from the pandemic.

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