Singapore sets aside over $8 billion in 2021 budget for new Covid support package

People wearing protective masks walk along the Jubilee Bridge at the Marina Bay waterfront on June 7, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government on Tuesday announced a new fiscal package worth 11 billion Singapore dollars ($8.3 billion) to support Covid vaccination efforts and economic segments hit hard in the pandemic.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, in his annual budget speech, outlined how the funds will be used:

  • About 4.8 billion Singapore dollars ($3.6 billion) are meant for public health and safe reopening measures, including vaccination, contract tracing and testing capabilities.
  • Extend several existing schemes to subsidize wages of workers and provide financing to businesses.
  • Targeted support for select sectors such as aviation, land transportation and arts.

Singapore’s government last year committed more than 90 billion Singapore dollars ($68 billion) — around 20% of GDP — to soften the pandemic’s economic hit.

Those measures, along with the central bank’s monetary support, helped Singapore to “avoid a worse recession, avert job losses and mitigate inequality,” said Heng.

He added that if not for the measures, the Southeast Asian economy would have shrunk by at least 12.4% last year. That’s more than double the 5.4% contraction — still the worst-ever economic recession — that the country recorded in 2020.

Singapore’s economy is expected to grow 4% to 6% this year, according to the government’s forecast.

The city-state was one of the first countries outside China to report cases of Covid-19 in early 2020. The country went into a partial lockdown — locally referred to as a “circuit breaker” — in April last year to stem the virus spread.

The economy has gradually reopened since June and the number of newly confirmed infections has slowed down in recent months. As of Monday, Singapore has reported more than 59,800 cumulative cases of Covid-19 and 29 deaths, data by the health ministry showed.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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