THE Resilience Budget serves to calm nerves as a covert storm infiltrates the world and a perfect storm envelopes Singapore.
In a year when talk was about an upcoming election and an economy that seemed to be trending well, the COVID-19 pandemic has swallowed the limelight.
As the situation worsens in the West, with the US overtaking China with the most number of coronavirus cases and a record 3.3 million jobless claims last week, the signs are this could be a long, drawn out situation.
With the coronavirus top of mind for most people, this was the time for the government to show a steady hand and draw in as many people into a safety net that addressed fiscal, physical and mental insecurities.
It was about making sound decisions and acting on them quickly, while at the same time, not overreacting and causing the system to shut down. This the government achieved admirably with the systematic implementation of quarantine and isolation procedures.
This sense of speed was evident in the implementation of a wide range of financial benefits, just weeks following the announcement of the $6.4 billion Unity Budget in Parliament, on 18 February.
On 26 March, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered a whopping $48 billion worth of measures in his Resilience Budget to “deal decisively” with the situation.
The Minister also added that, if needed, the government would step in with additional measures to steer things towards as safe a harbour as possible. This would mean dipping into the much-guarded reserves.
It was necessary for Singapore’s leadership to continue displaying a caring disposition towards a coronavirus-shocked citizenry watching as everything around them started slowing down at an alarming speed.
Addressing the needs of big business like Singapore Airlines, and the small players of the gig economy — $1,000 a month for 9 months — has helped to spread the positivity around. Paying more attention to industries that have had the rug pulled from beneath them — tourism, hospitality, food and beverage, and aviation — may help to keep some of them from succumbing to the virus and keep the economy bubbling.
As in all budgets, it’s easy to be wowed by the big numbers and general information provided. It will boil down to how the numbers filter down to businesses, households and individuals.
“We will leave no one behind,” Heng emphasised.
As a sign of personal sacrifice, and to lead by example, he added that political leaders are taking a 3-month salary cut. While this gesture sees them earning upwards of $700,000 this year, the bulk of the citizens will be wondering if they will still have a job that will pay them the average annual wage of $36,000.
Here are the links to all the Friday Focus articles on The Resilience Budget:
- Impressive…But Wait For The Details
- Unexpected Support
- Time To Prioritise
- Keep The Money Flowing
- A Generous Helping Hand
- Some Questions Unanswered
- What About The Hardworking Foreigners?
- Cash Is King
- Living Day To Day
- Mind The Gaps!