heng swee keat
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In his Fortitude Budget speech today (May 26), DPM Heng Swee Keat said that the Covid-19 situation has since deteriorated sharply.

Globally, over five million people have been infected and over 340,000 lives have been lost.

The Covid-19 outbreak has also disrupted the global economy. Lockdowns and movement restrictions have exerted a huge cost, with major job losses in many economies.

This morning, the Ministry of Trade and Industry further downgraded Singapore’s GDP growth forecast from “-4% to -1%” to “-7% to -4%”, noted DPM Heng.

Outward-oriented sectors, such as manufacturing, wholesale trade and transportation and storage have been affected by both weak external demand and supply chain disruptions.

The circuit breaker, which was put in place to bring down community transmission decisively, also affected many businesses that could not operate offsite, he said.

Based on preliminary estimates, the resident unemployment rate rose to 3.3% in March 2020, the highest since December 2009.

Mr Heng said the Budget introduced today will amount to $33 billion, and its central focus is jobs.

The Budget will continue to support workers and businesses that remain affected by border closures and safe distancing measures, and help them emerge stronger after the pandemic by seizing opportunities.

The Budget will help businesses and workers, and Mr Heng said he will cover this in three parts:

  1. First, how we provide timely support to businesses and workers.
  2. Second, how we support businesses to transform to secure the future of our workers.
  3. Third, how we help Singaporeans upskill and re-skill to seize opportunities – now and in the future.

There will also be additional support to households and the community to cope with the disruptions, and to front-line agencies fighting against the pandemic.

Together with the previous Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, Singapore is dedicating $92.9 billion for the battle against the coronavirus, which is almost 20 per cent (19.2 per cent) of Singapore’s GDP.

Mr Heng called it a landmark package, and a necessary response to an unprecedented crisis.

Featured Image Credit: Reuters

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