Coronavirus: Singapore extends stimulus measures

22 April 2020

Singapore will continue its initiative to support businesses as the countrywide lockdown is extended until 1 June. 

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has extended the partial lockdown by four weeks in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus, after the country saw a fresh spike in cases.

Singapore has been widely praised for its management of the pandemic but yesterday (21 April) its health ministry announced another 1,111 cases of the disease.

Lockdown measures in Singapore include shutting most workplaces temporarily and were initially supposed to end on 4 May. 

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the government would extend some stimulus initiatives, which include wage subsidies and rebates on foreign worker levies, into May to help businesses cope with the extended period of the partial lockdown. 

This would cost an additional $2.7bn on top of existing measures, said Heng. 

Separately, job losses could soar across the Asia Pacific region and employment may remain low for some time, S&P Global has warned.

“Unemployment rates across Asia-Pacific could rise by well over three percentage points, twice as large as the average recession,” said S&P’s Asia Pacific chief economist Shaun Roache.

Job creation in the region is largely being driven by the service sector but this sector is also bearing the brunt of the region’s lockdowns.

“Jobs are at the core of the current economic crisis,” said Roache. “Measures designed to limit viral spread are striking at the heart of the engine of job creation across Asia-Pacific — the service sector.”

And exports of palm oil from Indonesia, one of the country’s leading earners of foreign exchange have fallen by nearly 19% in the January to February period, the Jakarta Post has said.

The falls, which included oleochemicals and palm oil kernel, were driven by lower exports to China.

The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) said palm oil exports in the first two months of this year were at 4.93m tonnes, down by 1.2m tonnes on the amount shipped in the same period last year.

Palm oil exports to China fell by 500,000 tonnes compared to the same period last year, while those to India fell by 188,000 tonnes and exports to Africa were down by 250,000 tonnes.

“Lower exports to China was likely a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, while lower exports to Africa was likely caused by high prices,” the association said in a statement.

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