Singapore

Singapore needs 'all hands on deck' to beat crisis: President Halimah

In New Year message, President is confident Singaporeans can build better future amid Covid-19

At the end of a very unusual and challenging year, with Covid-19 causing serious economic and social disruption, Singapore needs "all hands on deck" to overcome the crisis and build a better future for generations to come, President Halimah Yacob said yesterday in her New Year message.

She added that she was confident Singaporeans were up to the task, noting that they have shown to be made of sterner stuff, with crises strengthening them and making them even more resilient.

Speaking in a video released by the Istana, Madam Halimah said: "We now have to reassess the way we organise our lives, work and businesses as there is no going back to the pre-Covid-19 period. But there are also opportunities.

"Covid-19 has accelerated the use of technology, and long-term challenges such as climate change have gained a new impetus. Countries are using the opportunity to reshape their recovery towards a more green and sustainable economy."

Madam Halimah also noted that Singapore was still experiencing economic headwinds induced by the pandemic, particularly in the aerospace and tourism-related sectors.

RECOVERY

She said that with concerted efforts, a full recovery may take one or two years - and even then, the next decade will see slower growth with higher expenditure.

"We must continue to make critical investments in our infrastructure and skills development so that we can continue to attract new investments and create new jobs," Madam Halimah added.

She pointed out that Singapore, like other countries struggling with tight fiscal positions, has had to dip into past reserves to support affected businesses and workers.

Last month, the President approved the injection of an extra $8 billion in Covid-19 support.

The Government has passed nearly $100 billion of relief measures, with up to $52 billion drawn from the reserves.

"Going forward, the Government's fiscal position will continue to be very tight, but we also cannot adopt policies that will cause the economy to contract, which can delay our recovery," said Madam Halimah.

"It's a fine balance, with the people's interest at our core in whatever we do."

She also thanked healthcare professionals for their dedication and steadfastness in keeping Singaporeans safe.

While the availability of Covid-19 vaccines is cause for cheer, Singaporeans have to heed expert advice on the ongoing need to be cautious, added the President.

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