Wuhan Virus Expected to Hit S’pore Economy; Gov Working to Help Businesses

The Wuhan Virus is many things: infectious, hazardous and all-around deadly, as justifiable by the (ongoing) death toll over in China. Yet, the Wuhan Virus’ so much more than a simple pathogen that has the ability to wipe out the whole of humanity; it’s also a potential sucker punch for the once-thriving sector that’s Singapore’s Economy. 

But before you wallow in self-despair, fear not; our government’s here to help. Fresh from the incorporation of effective preventative measures to secure the future of our children, the government has announced that they’ll also be chipping in to help the pillar of Singapore’s growth:

The businesses that make up our nation’s economy.

Wuhan Virus Expected to Hit S’pore Economy; Gov Working to Help Businesses

According to The Straits Times, the Wuhan Virus outbreak’s expected to affect Singapore’s economy, business and consumer confidence this year as the situation’s predicted to persist for some time, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Monday (27 June).

Tourism-related sectors, in particular, are of “immediate concern”, he said at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force on the Wuhan coronavirus.

According to Mr Chan, the MTI will help these businesses and enterprises (including travel agents, hospitality industries, the food and beverage sector, retailers and air transport providers) alleviate their business costs, as well as reduce cash flow problems and retain workers.

In addition, the ministry’s also coordinating with the Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) to create mandatory support measures for the economy and Singapore’s workers. Examples include ones that were implemented in 2003 during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

Tourism-related Industries

For tourism-related industries, the Minister states that some of the measures the government can take (and have taken previously) include “property tax rebates“, “reduction in the foreign worker levy for unskilled workers” and the “easing of working capital through a temporary bridging loan“.

According to him, these measures will assist to reduce to the risk of a business going insolvent, and subsequently leading to retrenchments.

Economic agencies, like the Singapore Tourism Board, have also been in contact with TACs to analyse the impact and determine the help required.

“Our priority now is to work closely with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and NTUC to mitigate the fallout and support our workers affected to preserve their livelihoods,” he said.

Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who’s also on the task force, has stated that life must go on.

“Businesses must continue to operate, and our workers must be able to go to work,” she said.

She added that her ministry has been cooperating with employers and the union to keep workplaces safe.

At the press conference, she said that employees should familiarise themselves with the latest advisories on official channels like the Health and Manpower Ministry websites, as well as the Gov.sg Whatsapp service.

They should also incorporate recommended measures, and ask the Manpower Ministry for advice if they’ve concerns or are unsure about what to do.

Several businessmen have since informed The Straits Times, that their companies have already inducted measures in light of the virus outbreak. Mr Ho Kwok Choi, for one, has encouraged his friends and employees (who’ve been to China) to rest at home for two weeks as a precaution against the virus.

Mr Ho, who runs a food importing business, is also avoiding all travel to China himself, despite having been a regular there.

“The situation looks to be getting more dangerous, the numbers of infected and deaths are increasing day by day,” said Mr Ho.

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