SINGAPORE (Mar 12): In an unanticipated address to the nation on March 12, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called for Singaporeans to stand together against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Touching on the medical, economic and psychological impact of the outbreak, PM Lee warned that the number of imported cases is expected to rise – leading to new clusters and new waves of infection.
However, he sought to reassure the public that the situation in Singapore “remains under control”.
“If we keep up our guard, and take practical precautions to protect ourselves and our families, we will be able to keep our economy going, and carry on with our daily lives,” he said in a video telecast.
The Prime Minister also hinted at a “second package of measures” but stopped short of divulging the financial details of these additional measures.
“We will help our companies with their costs and cash-flow, to keep them afloat through the storm. We will help our workers keep their jobs, and retrain during their downtime, so that when things return to normal, our workers will be the first out of the gate, and immediately productive,” he said.
He added that those who are retrenched and unemployed, as well as their families, will also receive “an extra helping hand to see through this difficult period”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at a roundtable discussion on March 11 had revealed that the government was mulling a second stimulus package to give Singaporean workers and businesses a shot in the arm amid the virus-led downturn.
See: Singapore SMEs, workers could get more help amid coronavirus woes as government mulls 2nd stimulus package
This comes barely a month after Heng in his Budget 2020 speech on Feb 18 unveiled a $4 billion package to stabilise the Singapore economy and support local workers caught up in a swirl of near-term uncertainties.
See: $4 bil support package for Singapore enterprises, workers to offset effects of Covid-19
“I am sharing these plans with you to reassure you that we are on top of things, and thinking ahead. We anticipated the medical and economic consequences. I am confident that we can deal with them,” PM Lee said in his address.
“What makes Singapore different from other countries is that we have confidence in each other, we feel that we are all in this together, and we do not leave anyone behind,” he added. “This is SG United, we are SG United.