Photo of Heng Swee Keat from Straits Times

On his Facebook page, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat wrote that he is able to sleep soundly at night because his government is going to withdraw from the National Reserves:

“SGBudget2020 will include measures that were not on the table one month ago. We would not have been able to act quickly and decisively, if not for our deep reserves. Without these reserves, we would have been much worse off — both financially and psychologically. My team and I would not be able to spend the last few weeks working on the stabilisation and support measures. We would instead be lying awake trying to project the negative impact of the outbreak, how much of a hit we are going to suffer, rather than what we can do to stabilise our economy and support our people.”

The Finance Minister did not reveal how much is he going to withdraw from the National Reserves, but the poor economic conditions of 2019 and recent enormous projects have signalled the government is going into a deficit.

Three of the biggest government projects, Terminal 5, Cross Island Line and Tuas Mega Port, to date have no budget announced, but tens of billions have been spent on each.

The Singapore authorities are also expecting the economy to go into a recession, with the Ministry of Trade downgrading the GDP forecast to as low as -0.5%. On the ground, the Wuhan virus outbreak has severely hit the tourism, FnB, taxi, retail and airline sector.

Business associations are clamouring for interest-free government loans, rent assistance and bigger government tax cuts.

Unemployment rate of Singaporean citizens are currently at the decade-high of 3.3%, and it is expected to worsen further this year as more confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus outbreak continue soaring.