SINGAPORE: Singapore has months' worth of stockpiles at the national level, and has planned for a disruption of supplies from Malaysia over many years, Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Tuesday (Mar 17).
Currently, Singapore has more than three months' worth of carbohydrates like rice and noodles, and more than two months' worth of stockpiles for proteins and vegetables, he said, revealing such numbers for the first time.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Chan said Singapore has plans to manage a disruption of supplies from Malaysia through a combination of stockpiling, local production and diversification of overseas sources.
READ: Singapore 'not facing any immediate risks of running out of food' - Chan Chun Sing on Malaysia's restricted movement order
Mr Chan also stressed that while there are travel restrictions by various countries, this does not equate to restrictions in the supply chain.
"Last night, Malaysia announced a movement control order, as part of their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19," said Mr Chan.
He said not all details are available at this point, but Singapore is in contact with the Malaysian authorities, as they work on their operation details on Tuesday.
"Some Singaporeans are concerned with the supplies of food and essential items," he said.
"Many companies with Malaysian workers are concerned with the continuity of their operations. Let me first say that a disruption of supplies from Malaysia is one of the contingency scenarios that we have planned for over the many years.
"As such, we have plans to manage this contingency with a combination of stockpiling, building up our domestic production capacities, and diversifying our supply sources to many countries."
WATCH: Chan Chun Sing's message to Singaporeans
He said this combination of stockpiling and production would allow Singapore time to bring in alternative supplies if usual supply lines are disrupted.
"So in this particular instance, the Malaysian lines have been disrupted and our stockpile and local production will buy us time to bring in alternative supplies," he said.
Mr Chan spoke about Singapore's supplies, while adding that Singaporeans "will know that we cannot reveal all the actual numbers, as it will affect the negotiations with our overseas suppliers".
"For carbohydrates, like rice and noodles, we have more than three months' worth of stockpile at the national level," he said.
"For noodles. We also have domestic production capabilities, which we can ramp up as necessary.
"For proteins, like meat and vegetables, we have a combination of fresh, frozen and canned options to meet our demands," added the minister.
"For both proteins and vegetables, we have more than two months' worth of stockpile for normal consumption.
"For eggs, we have local production, and we have activated other air freight options to bring in substitute supplies, should the Malaysian supplies be disrupted."
READ: Singapore must prepare mentally for spike in COVID-19 cases, update stockpile, supply chain strategy - Chan Chun Sing
He said that while all fellow Singaporeans may have to make some adjustment to their choices, there are sufficient supplies for all Singaporeans, "so long as we buy responsibly".
"I can understand the fear and anxiety of some Singaporeans," said Mr Chan.
"Singaporeans who remain calm can help us reach out and reassure those who are anxious, so that we can go through this together as one united people."
He said that while individuals may be anxious, we can draw strength as a community.
Addressing the issue of Malaysian workers, he said many employers have inquired since Monday night if they can provide temporary accommodation in Singapore for the Malaysian workers who may wish to stay here.
"During this period, our economic agencies are working with the companies, dormitory operators and hotels, to provide options for the companies," he said.
"So companies who need help, for their workers' accommodation can contact economic agencies, and also work with their trade associations."
SINGAPORE IMPORTS FOOD FROM MORE THAN 170 COUNTRIES: SFA
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday also said the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies, will continue.
In a Facebook post, Mr Lee said he received this reassurance from Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin when they discussed the situation earlier in the day.
According to 2019 figures from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Malaysia accounted for 37 per cent, 72 per cent and 15 per cent of Singapore’s chicken, egg and fish supplies, respectively.
Meanwhile, Singapore imported 39 per cent of its fruits and 41 per cent of its vegetables from Malaysia last year.
SFA said the country’s food supply is not affected by Malaysia’s movement control order.
As a result of its diversification efforts for the sourcing of food items including eggs, chicken, and vegetables, Singapore now imports food from more than 170 countries and regions.
“Should there be a disruption to any one source, we will work with our importers to tap on alternative sources, and ensure that our food supply remains stable,” a spokesperson said in response to CNA’s queries.
SFA has also been investing in local production to serve as a buffer during supply disruptions.
“We are working with our local agri-food industry to achieve our vision of producing 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030,” said the spokesperson.
“In the meantime, Singaporeans should stay calm and support local produce.”
Additional reporting by Tang See Kit.