SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Finance (MOF) will present a third Supplementary Supply Bill in the next Parliament sitting in October, covering S$8 billion of COVID-19 support extended last month, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Friday (Sep 4).
Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, was responding to questions from Members of Parliament on a fifth set of COVID-19 support measures he had announced on Aug 17.
MP for Bukit Panjang SMC Liang Eng Hwa asked whether measures announced will be debated in Parliament, and whether the revised spending plan will need to be approved by Parliament. MP for Mountbatten SMC Lim Biow Chuan asked whether Parliament will be able to seek clarification on the financial measures.
MP for Tampines GRC Cheng Li Hui wanted to know why the ministerial statement by Mr Heng was delivered via a broadcast and not in Parliament, whether this was allowed and when MPs will have the opportunity to debate the measures in Parliament.
Mr Heng said that MOF had briefed President Halimah Yacob and Members of the Council of Presidential Advisors. To ensure accountability to Parliament, he will present a Third Supplementary Estimates and Third Supplementary Supply Bill in the next Parliament sitting in October.
“These will reflect how funds will be re-allocated across different Heads of Expenditure. The Supplementary Estimates will be considered in the Committee of Supply and the Bill will go through the first, second and third readings in Parliament,” said Mr Heng.
He added that the coverage of some key schemes, including the Jobs Support Scheme, was going to end in August and businesses were concerned if the support would be extended.
“Many jobs and businesses may be at stake if we did not announce the policy measures in time,” he said.
“To ensure that we gave businesses and workers clarity on the Government’s continued support, on Aug 17, I laid out further COVID-19 support measures via a television broadcast. Our businesses and workers have found this reassurance useful in their decision making.”
The support measures announced then are fully funded by re-allocation from other areas, such as unused funds from development expenditure because of delays in major construction projects – such as new MRT lines.
“As I stated in my Aug 17 statement, the measures will be fully funded by re-allocation, with no further increase in the Government’s overall expenditure. We do not plan to draw further on Past Reserves for this set of measures,” said Mr Heng.