Singapore

Budget will have measures to help firms cope with coronavirus fallout

Budget 2020 will be a comprehensive one that helps companies and workers transform, as well as support families and ensure environmental and financial sustainability, Ms Indranee Rajah said yesterday.

Measures will also be in place to help businesses cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan.

"(Singapore has) a sound financial position and strong fundamentals. We will be able to withstand the current situation, but have to make some adjustments and make sure our companies and workers are supported," said the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education.

In an interview with Singapore Press Holdings radio station Money FM 89.3, she said the Government had started the year expecting steady growth. "But the new coronavirus situation will have a global impact. This is something we have to take into account," she said.

Work must continue, not just to address present needs, but also to position Singapore for the future, she said. Businesses can expect targeted support to move into new growth areas and hire those with the right skills.

"Many small and medium-sized enterprises know it's important to tap the digital economy, but they have to make sense of all the things in the market. So we want to look at packages that will help them make those choices," she said. There will also be initiatives to help smaller companies scale up and for retrenched workers to find new jobs.

Companies will also have more incentives to employ older workers. "Singaporeans are living longer and healthier. Not all want to work full-time, but people want to be active and do something fulfilling," she said.

While she did not provide details, she said climate change, too, will be addressed in the upcoming Budget.

She added that the measures are the result of extensive consultations with the public.

More than 10,000 responses were collected during the annual feedback exercise by government feedback unit Reach, the People's Association and the Finance Ministry in December and January.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver his Budget speech on Feb 18.

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