Ministerial Statement on Fifth Set of COVID-19 Measures04 Sep 2020
Parliamentary Question by Mr Liang Eng Hwa:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether the Ministerial Statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister on 17 August 2020 in respect of the fifth set of COVID-19 support measures will be considered and debated in Parliament; and (b) whether the revised spending plan will need to be approved by Parliament.
Parliamentary Question by Mr Lim Biow Chuan:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance what is the basis for announcing the additional $8 billion financial measures on 17 August 2020 and whether Parliament will be able to seek clarification on the financial measures.
Parliamentary Question by Ms Cheng Li Hui:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) what is the reason for the recent Ministerial Statement on further support measures being delivered via a broadcast and not in Parliament; (b) whether this is permissible under parliamentary procedures; and (c) whether and when MPs will have the opportunity to debate the measures in the Ministerial Statement in Parliament.
Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:
Mr Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I will answer the three questions together in my response.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace. It has demanded swift and robust responses from the Government. From February to June, we committed close to $100 billion in COVID-19 support, over four Budget packages, to support our people and businesses.
The Government has been monitoring the economic conditions and having regular interactions and dialogues with citizens and business leaders. The coverage of some key schemes, including the Jobs Support Scheme, was going to end in August. Businesses were concerned if the support would be extended. Many jobs and businesses may be at stake if we did not announce our policy measures in time.
To ensure that we gave businesses and workers clarity on the Government’s continued support, on 17 August, I laid out further COVID-19 support measures via a television broadcast. Our businesses and workers have found this reassurance useful in their decision making.
The COVID-19 situation has affected the projected spending of some Ministries and projects. For example, delays in major construction projects such as new MRT lines have decreased development expenditure. To meet changing needs, MOF reallocated unutilised funds from these areas to fund the extension of these measures. As I stated in my 17 August statement, the measures will be fully funded by re-allocation, with no further increase in the Government’s overall expenditure. We do not plan to draw further on Past Reserves for this set of measures.
MOF briefed President and Members of the Council of Presidential Advisors. To ensure accountability to Parliament, we will present a Third Supplementary Estimates and Third Supplementary Supply Bill in the next Parliament sitting in October. These will reflect how funds will be re-allocated across different Heads of Expenditure. The Supplementary Estimates will be considered in the Committee of Supply and the Bill will go through the first, second and third readings in Parliament.
The Government is responding swiftly to a fast-evolving situation and will share its plans with the public in a timely and clear fashion, while ensuring full accountability for the use of public monies.