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DPM Heng: Govt will support firms and workers hit by economic slowdown from Wuhan virus outbreak

Details of the relief measures will be announced in the Budget Statement on Feb 18

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Singapore — The Government will be providing targeted support to sectors that have been directly affected by the Wuhan virus outbreak, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

On Saturday (Feb 1), Mr Heng visited Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa with National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.

The hotel’s guests were Singapore’s first and third confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus.

While it was less crowded, Mr Heng was “glad to see that the staff were in good spirits”. Along with some photos posted on his Facebook page, Mr Heng included preliminary details on how the Government will address the virus outbreak’s effects on the economy.

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“Safeguarding the well-being of our people remains our top priority,” he said. “The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has stepped up precautionary measures in the past week to reduce the risk of both community spread and the risk of more imported nCoV (Novel Coronavirus) cases.”

With the situation “rapidly evolving”, the Government is expecting a “knock-on impact” on related industries and firms such as those in the aviation, tourism and transport sectors.

press release issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on the same day noted that the Government has strengthened its 2020 Budget to address the possibility of a broad and intense economic slowdown.

“A package of measures to help viable companies stay afloat and help workers stay in their jobs” will be included in the Budget.

It said measures include helping firms with their short-term cash flow needs and supporting firms retain and train their workers during this period. This includes “providing some support for part of their wage costs”.

The Government will also continue to work together with tripartite partners to “restructure the economy, build new enterprise capabilities, and upskill our workers for the future”, the ministries added.

Mr Heng mentioned that the economic impact of the outbreak is understandably weighing on people’s minds. “But with this, we are prepared to do more. We will continue to monitor this closely and implement decisive measures as needed.”

“We can emerge stronger as long as we continue to work together,” he added in his post.

Details of the relief measures will be announced in the Budget Statement on Feb 18.

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