Hsien Loong: Virus may be more damaging than financial crisis


“We can’t tell when the pandemic will end, but it will likely last at least this year, and quite possibly longer, ” Lee said in a Facebook post.

SINGAPORE: The economic fallout from the coronavirus could be more serious than the damage done by the 2008 global financial crisis for Singapore, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We can’t tell when the pandemic will end, but it will likely last at least this year, and quite possibly longer, ” Lee said in a Facebook post. “The economic hit will likely be more serious than the Global Financial Crisis, and longer-lasting too, even beyond the end of the pandemic.”

The comments come after the Monetary Authority of Singapore sought to reassure the public that markets were “functioning normally” as fears of a virus-induced slowdown sparked huge sell-offs around the globe. The city state has 200 confirmed cases of the virus and its trade-dependent economy is particularly vulnerable.

Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob said the nation must consider tapping past reserves to help its people and businesses that are “bleeding” from the impact of the virus. The government is preparing a second wave of support measures after allocating S$6.4bil (US$4.5bil) last month to aid the virus-hit economy.

Lee’s post also came a day after Singapore released a crucial electoral boundaries report, setting the stage for an imminent announcement on the country’s next election that’s largely considered to be Prime Minister Lee’s final run at office.

“I fully expect things to get more serious before they start getting better, ” according to the post. When the election will be held “will depend on what will best see Singapore through this major crisis”, he said. — Bloomberg

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