President Halimah Yacob gives in-principle support for govt to draw total S$21 billion of past reserves in Covid-19 fight

Entering a critical phase.

Sulaiman Daud | April 06, 2020, 05:16 PM

These are unprecedented times, and financial support needs to be found to help Singaporeans tide through one of the worst crises in the nation's history.

Previously, to help fund the Resilience Budget, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat sought in-principle approval from President Halimah Yacob to draw down S$14 billion on past reserves, for only the second time in Singapore's history.

The gap between the first occasion, in 2009 and the second in 2020 was 11 years.

The gap between the second and the third was less than a month.

Solidarity budget

On Apr. 6, Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, announced a third round of financial support measures known as the Solidarity Budget.

The cost of these measures in the Solidarity Budget total S$5.1 billion.

To help fund this, Heng announced that he had sought in-principle approval from Halimah for a further draw down of S$4 billion from the past reserves.

Heng explained that the remaining S$1.1 billion will be funded from the fiscal space for this term of government.

Heng added that the situation remains highly fluid and uncertain, and the government stands ready to provide further support, if necessary.

President's support

In a Facebook post on Apr. 6, after Heng's speech concluded, Halimah confirmed that she had given her in-principle support to draw a further S$4 billion, for a total of S$21 billion.

She added:

"We are entering a critical phase in our nation’s fight against Covid-19. The heightened safe distancing measures is a drastic but effective response to curb the spread of the disease.

If implemented well, the measures should help us avert an exponential increase in the locally transmitted cases or even reverse the trend. But it also requires everyone to adhere strictly to the guidelines, despite the inconveniences.

So let us all do our part, and support one another during this difficult period."

Top image from Halimah Yacob's Facebook page.