Budget 2021: $11b to help Singapore bounce back from Covid-19

SINGAPORE - In a three-pronged approach to enhance Singapore's recovery from the ravages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday (Feb 16) that he will set aside $11 billion for a Covid-19 Resilience Package.

"The global economy is projected to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels this year, but the recovery is uneven across countries and sectors," he said.

"The Singapore economy is projected to grow between 4 per cent and 6 per cent, with some sectors growing well, and others remaining under stress."

The $11 billion will be used to ease the recovery process.

Of this, $4.8 billion will go towards safe guarding public health, including providing everyone who is eligible with free vaccination against the virus.

This, together with medicine for those infected, will cost $1 billion.

The bulk of the money allocated to public health - $3.1 billion - will be used for testing, clinical management of those who become sick, and contact tracing to identify people who might have become infected, to prevent spread and clusters forming.

Another $5 billion will be used to support workers and businesses, with the lion's share of $2.9 billion going to an extension of the Jobs Support Scheme.

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Singapore has already committed $25 billion to this scheme, supporting more than 150,000 employers for up to 17 months.

Of the $2.9 billion to extend the Jobs Support Scheme, $700 million was announced on Tuesday, and $2.2 billion had been promised in August last year.

Said Mr Heng: "As the situation improved, I tapered support for sectors that were recovering well, and extended support to harder-hit sectors."

Similarly, help this year will also be skewed towards sectors that are the hardest hit, such as aviation and tourism.

The third tranche of $1.2 billion will be used to support specific sectors that have been especially badly hit by the fallout from the pandemic.

The aviation sector will receive $900 million. Another $100 million will go towards helping the arts, culture, sports and maritime sectors.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.