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MAS promises to support businesses and individuals in riding out the COVID-19 crisis

The central bank is looking to assist individuals and businesses that utilised the relief measures to help them meet their loan and insurance commitments by working to ensure a well-paced exit that minimises the sharp cliff effects for borrowers

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that it seeks to anchor economic and financial stability, and support businesses and individuals in riding out the COVID19 crisis, in its addendum to President Halimah Yacob’s parliamentary address this week.

The addendum was penned by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the minister in charge of the central bank.

Pointing out that the current financial crisis is the most severe economic downturn Singapore has seen since independence, Mr Tharman wrote that MAS will also position the financial sector to emerge stronger, so that it can continue to support the economy and provide more good jobs for Singaporeans.

Asserting that the financial sector is integral to Singapore’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Mr Tharman revealed that the financial sector is on track to meeting its targets for both growth and job creation that were set out in its 5-year Industry Transformation Map for 2016 – 2020.

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MAS has also undertaken a number of initiatives to help Singapore overcome the uncertain future ahead. The central bank is looking to assist individuals and businesses that took advantage of the relief measures to help them meet their loan and insurance commitments by working to ensure a well-paced exit that minimises sharp cliff effects for borrowers, while safeguarding financial stability.

To ensure monetary stability, the MAS has adopted an accommodative monetary stance to help mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker and broad-based decline in global demand. MAS eased monetary policy in April this year to prevent a broadening of disinflationary pressures that would be destabilising for the economy.

It also promised to continue ensuring the smooth functioning of funding markets in Singapore, through its money market operations, so that there is no disruption to the banks’ ability to continue to extend credit to the economy.

The central bank further plans to foster financial stability and will do so by providing a number of regulatory reliefs to financial institutions. MAS said that these reliefs do not compromise prudential standards, and that it will continue to supervise the industry closely.

Helping tripartite partners support the reskilling and upskilling of the local workforce and create jobs and traineeship opportunities in the financial sector for fresh graduates and mid-career workers is another area MAS is focusing on.

Mr Tharman said that MAS is working with major financial institutions to ensure a solid Singaporean core in their workforces, complemented by diverse and high-quality manpower. These efforts include developing a strong pipeline of Singaporeans for senior responsibilities in the sector.

The S$125 million support package that MAS launched this April will also enable structured talent development programmes for more than 900 Singaporeans among those newly hired by financial institutions, which are also doing their part by committing to hire significant numbers under the various SGUnited Jobs & Skills programmes.

Further, MAS will work to prepare local mid-career workers for new or transformed roles, To do this, it is working closely with the Institute of Banking and Finance and Workforce Singapore to train and redeploy workers into financial institutions.

MAS will continue to leverage technology in its efforts and revealed that it is working actively with other government agencies and the industry to drive further progress on electronic payments and digital banking. In addition, it will work with the financial services and FinTech sectors to adopt digital solutions that will strengthen operational resilience, improve productivity, better manage risks, and engage customers.

Lastly, MAS promised to promote environmental sustainability through its Green Finance Action Plan. Read the addendum in full here.

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