Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing has said that Singapore is re-assessing its stockpiling policies in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and its global implications.
According to straitstimes.com, Mr Chan disclosed this on Saturday (March 7) after a visit to NTUC FairPrice’s Benoi Distribution Centre in Joo Koon. He said the Government is modifying its stockpile sources for goods that are now in high demand amid the outbreak. He stressed that although in the past Singapore’s stockpile policy was more locally and regionally-oriented, the Government is re-calibrating the system in order to make it more globally-oriented.
“In this particular case, we have to review some of our assumptions to look at the global contingency, where many of our conventional supply lines might be disrupted.” He explained that this modification includes assessing the origin of the goods, the source of manpower, the market suppliers, and the specific shipping lines which carry new stocks into Singapore.
Mr Chan made similar comments about Singapore’s stockpiles of goods at a closed-door meeting of a trade association, following panic-buying after the country’s Dorscon alert level was raised to orange on Feb 7. An audio recording of his comments was leaked online, while mothership.com has a transcript of his comments.
According to tnp.sg, Mr Chan also said that the Government “will carefully build up some local capacities” for necessary goods in order to “surge in times of need”. He gave the example of how Singapore has re-calibrated its supply of rice, which it previously got mainly from Thailand and Vietnam, but now also gets from Japan and India.
He also cited how countries are now having to make modifications to their supply chains and how there are those that are even going so far as to end the export of certain products.
Mr Chan said that Singapore must think and plan ahead, which means that it will have to ensure that there will be a back-up supply of goods for emergencies. He also said that Singapore’s area for improvement is its capability to successfully replenish supermarket supplies whenever demand shoots up.
Referring to the panic-buying that was triggered on Feb 7, he said: “When we saw some of the shortages over the weekend, it was not because we do not have supplies in the country. Some of it was just that we took a bit more time to deliver it from here (distribution centre) down to the stores. So that is something that we will seek to do better moving forward.”
Mr Chan gave the assurance that the Government is making the necessary adjustments but also encouraged Singaporeans to buy responsibly.
Meanwhile, he encouraged the people to prepare themselves for the number of Covid-19 cases to rise. “We must be mentally prepared that sometime down the road, we might also see a spike in our cases, significantly different from the numbers that we are seeing today.”