President Halimah gives assent to extra $33b in support packages

This article is more than 12 months old

President Halimah Yacob has given the go-ahead to fund Covid-19 support packages totalling $33 billion, which could draw up to an additional $31 billion from Singapore's past reserves.

Giving her assent to the Second Supplementary Supply (FY 2020) Bill yesterday, a move which formally authorises the Fortitude Budget and provides for the fourth tranche of Covid-19 relief measures announced last month, Madam Halimah said that even as Singaporeans look forward to phase two of reopening on Friday, the reality is that the disease will not be eradicated in the near future.

Some studies have even suggested that the virus may have mutated to become more infectious, and Singaporeans must be prepared to make more adjustments to their daily lives until a viable vaccine or treatment is available, she said in a Facebook post.

"We need to take all the necessary precautions to protect our people's health and safety. But at the same time, we should take this opportunity to quickly adapt to the changes," she added.

"The world will evolve into a very different one after this crisis, so all the more we should invest in our people during this period - to protect livelihoods and reskill - so that we are well poised to emerge stronger from this crisis."

On May 26, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the $33 billion supplementary Budget to help workers and businesses tide over the grim economic period.

Together with the earlier Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, the Government is dedicating close to $100 billion - or nearly 20 per cent of gross domestic product - in Covid-19 support measures.

Madam Halimah said that when the relevant agencies briefed her and the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) last month, all the parties were convinced these measures were necessary for the exceptional circumstances facing the nation. She said it was on this basis that she gave her assent to the Bill, notwithstanding its draw on past reserves.

Madam Halimah, who as president is responsible for protecting Singapore's past reserves, has held several rounds of discussions with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Heng since February.

After Parliament debated and passed the Second Supplementary Supply (FY 2020) Bill on June 5, this second Bill was sent to Madam Halimah for assent. It will now be enacted into a law called the Second Supplementary Supply (FY 2020) Act 2020.