Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sees the government running a budget deficit at least through early next year, and perhaps “a while” longer, as the coronavirus-hit economy bends the city-state’s traditional fiscal prudence.

“The next budget is in February. I very much doubt we will have any budget surplus by then,” Lee said in an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at the New Economy Forum, held virtually this year. “I hope that we will be able to come back to prudence and a balanced budget, but it may take a while.”

Governments globally have spent trillions of dollars this year to combat Covid-19 and its impacts. Singapore was among the first in Asia to unveil massive stimulus, and in March sought to tap its national reserves for the first time since the global financial crisis.

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