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COVID-19: Heng Swee Keat to deliver ministerial statement on continued support for workers, businesses on Aug 17

COVID-19: Heng Swee Keat to deliver ministerial statement on continued support for workers, businesses on Aug 17

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking in a televised speech on Jun 20, 2020 about Singapore's post-COVID-19 future. (Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver a ministerial statement on Monday (Aug 17) on how the Government will continue its support for workers and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated in many parts of the world. Since May, the total number of cases has tripled to 20 million. The global economy has taken a very severe hit, and the situation could get worse," Mr Heng said on Friday. 

He added that Singapore experienced its worst quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) performance on record in the second quarter. 

READ: Singapore's 4 Budgets 'effective', residents have felt the 'flow of benefits': Heng Swee Keat

"We have provided significant support for workers and businesses with almost S$100 billion over four Budgets, with more than half coming from our past reserves. 

"However, given the global economic and health crisis, we are likely to see more job losses and retrenchments in the coming months, and it will be many more months before our economy recovers fully. Even then, it will not be back to business as usual," he said in a Facebook post. 

He added that as Singapore gradually re-opens its economy, the recovery across industries is likely to be uneven and uncertain.

Mr Heng said that many sectors are gradually regaining their footing as economic activities resume, with a few sectors growing and even hiring. 

READ: Parliament passes Fortitude Budget, 4th package of COVID-19 relief measures this year

However, he added that several sectors have been very hard-hit and are "unlikely to recover for some years to come".

"Over the past few weeks, many people have shared with me their anxieties and concerns about their livelihoods. Weighing on their minds was also the uncertainty ahead, given that some of the support schemes are expiring," he added.

Mr Heng said he will be providing more details on how the Government will "evolve and extend" its support for Singapore's companies and workers in his ministerial statement on Monday.

"We will continue to support our workers and firms through this crisis. But we are not able to sustain the same level of support indefinitely. 

READ: Singapore narrows 2020 GDP forecast range as economy sees record quarterly slump in Q2

"As more sectors re-open gradually, we will have to evolve and taper the support provided. We will continue to provide targeted support to sectors that are hardest hit, including helping them pivot to new opportunities in growth areas.

"We are committed to walk this difficult journey with you. Together, we can overcome this crisis and emerge stronger as one people," he added. 

Mr Heng's statement will be delivered via a ministerial broadcast on Monday at 3.30pm, which will be carried on CNA, CNA938, and Mediacorp MeWatch. 

The full ministerial statement will also be published on the Singapore Budget website after delivery.

Since February, the Government has released four Budget packages aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on Singapore’s economy and protecting businesses and workers. 

These measures include: the Jobs Support Scheme, the Self Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme, rental and foreign workers levy waviers, and cash payouts to households.

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Source: CNA/zl(ta)

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