Singapore prepared to do more if needed: DPM Heng
For now, firms should use available support schemes to deal with impact of virus
With the coronavirus situation continuing to escalate globally, fears and concerns over the virus' economic impact on Singapore remain a primary concern for many industries.
But Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stressed that while continued vigilance is necessary, Singapore's response is calibrated and appropriate for the Government's assessment of the evolution and the current trajectory of the virus' impact.
Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, urged businesses to "just take whatever that is already on the table".
In his Budget 2020 announcement last week, Mr Heng said that the Government is setting aside funds to support industries and individuals financially by relieving some of the pressures caused by the outbreak.
Among the measures announced under the $4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package are the Jobs Support Scheme and Wage Credit Scheme, which are intended to help alleviate pressures caused by having to meet manpower costs despite a decline in business and revenue.
Mr Heng said: "All the measures which are really out there, make full use of it, make use of this downtime to raise our skill level."
He added: "Now, it is difficult at this point to predict how quickly this virus outbreak will be contained, and the knock-on impact it can have on the rest of the economy.
"But we have the measures, we have the resources, and we can do more, and we'll be prepared to do more, when the situation warrants."
Mr Heng was speaking to media after a visit to the Parkroyal on Kitchener Road hotel, where he observed how the hotel was coping with the downturn.
Mr Richard Ong, general manager of Parkroyal on Kitchener Road hotel said the support offered by the Budget has been helpful: "At this stage, every little bit helps. Every one of us wants more, but under the circumstances I think what the Government has given us is quite substantial."
He added that the hotel hopes to not have to lay off employees despite their occupancy levels suffering a hit.
The hotel has closed six out of 16 levels of guest rooms at this point.
Mr Ong said: "Our focus is very clear. We want to make sure that we stay viable, and that we can save jobs."
One of the ways the hotel has been streamlining its manpower is ensuring that their employees are equipped with various skills.
Mr Heng said that the wage support schemes and corporate income tax rebate do directly offer support, even for smaller local businesses.
He stressed repeatedly that the Government encourages landlords to pass the rebates and benefits down to their tenants.
He noted some, like CapitaLand, has already taken steps to do so.
Mr Heng said that the Finance Ministry will be looking into such issues, and more will be said during the upcoming Budget debate.