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COVID-19: Heng Swee Keat to announce third round of support measures in new 'Solidarity Budget'

SINGAPORE: A third round of support measures will be announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat when Parliament sits on Monday (Apr 6) to help tide businesses, workers and households through the COVID-19 outbreak.

This comes as Singapore closes schools and most workplaces for a month for the "first time in our history" to stem the spread of the disease, said Mr Heng in a Facebook post on Sunday.

"The COVID-19 situation has taken a very sharp turn, both globally and locally," said Mr Heng in his Facebook post. "Strong measures have to be taken to protect lives, but the economy has taken a hit as a result."

"Tomorrow will mark the third round of support measures in less than two months - coming after the Unity Budget on Feb 18 and the Resilience Budget on Mar 26. This too is another first."

READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes 'decisive move' to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had on Friday announced sweeping new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 including closing most workplaces and imposing full home-based learning for schools, likening the new measures to a "circuit breaker".

Mr Heng, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, called on Singaporeans to "remain steadfast in the face of crisis", and stand in solidarity with one another. 

"I am therefore naming this set of measures to tide us through the 'circuit breaker' the Solidarity Budget," he said. "Unity, resilience, solidarity - these values will come to define who we are as a people."

"The bonds that bind us together will be forged and renewed in this crisis, much as how the turbulent years of independence brought our founding generation together."

He also expressed gratitude for earlier generations who "saved up and built strong foundations for us".

Calling the current period a "defining chapter of our generation", Mr Heng added that Singapore would pull through and emerge stronger together.

"Together, we will pull through and emerge stronger. When the storm eventually subsides, as all storms do, I am confident that as a stronger society, we can build an even better future for our children and our grandchildren."

READ: COVID-19 Resilience Budget: ‘Landmark’ S$48 billion package to tide Singapore through ‘unprecedented’ crisis

Mr Heng will deliver a ministerial statement in Parliament at 2pm on Monday, said the Ministry of Finance in a media release.

At the same sitting, Parliament will resume debate on the Ministerial Statement delivered by Mr Heng on Mar 26. He will then will round up the debate the following day.

The new "Solidarity Budget" will be announced less than two weeks after Mr Heng unveiled an unparalleled S$48 billion package of measures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Together with the S$6.4 billion announced in Budget 2020 in February, Singapore is so far setting aside close to S$55 billion, amounting to 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), for the battle against COVID-19.

As of Saturday, Singapore has confirmed a total of 1,189 COVID-19 cases.

The country on Saturday reported its sixth death from COVID-19, an 88-year-old permanent resident with no recent travel history to affected places. The man had a history of heart and kidney disease, cancer and diabetes. 

New clusters have been emerging in the past week, including a cluster at the Ce La Vi rooftop bar at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Cricket Club and Mustafa Centre. 

Mr Heng's full ministerial statement will be published on the Singapore Budget website after delivery. 

There will be live broadcast coverage of the ministerial statement on CNA, CNA938 and MeWATCH.

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Source: CNA/nc


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