Singapore to spend over 4bn dollars to dampen coronavirus impact – dpa international


The Singapore parliament building (Simon Roughneen)

Singapore announced its 2020 budget on Tuesday, pledging 5.6 billion Singapore dollars (4.02 billion US dollars) to assist businesses and households affected financially by the coronavirus outbreak.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the measures in Singapore’s parliament, where he said another 800 million Singapore dollars will be allocated to support “frontline agencies” that are fighting coronavirus in the city-state, where 77 cases have been confirmed.

Heng warned that “the outbreak will certainly impact our economy” and said that inbound tourism and air traffic had already dropped as Chinese outbound tourism plummets.

Singapore Airlines announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily reducing flights “due to weak demand as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Heng said that venues hosting conferences will get a property tax rebate of 30 per cent, while Changi Airport, one of the world’s busiest, will get a 15-per-cent rebate.

A proposed increase to the goods and services tax will be put on hold until 2021.

The outbreak has forced factories across China to close temporarily, which “has disrupted supply chains,” Heng said. Singapore’s economy “is more integrated with China,” Heng noted, compared with during the 2008-9 global financial crisis.

Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry warned on Monday that 2020 economic growth could be minus 0.5 per cent, while on February 14 Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that a recession is “possible” this year.

Heng warned that “the duration and severity of this outbreak is still unclear” so “the economic impact may be worse than expected.”

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