Thu, Oct 15, 2020 – 7:07 PM

IN cases where a company’s potential failure amid the Covid-19 crisis “could significantly impact Singapore’s competitiveness or national security”, the government might step in, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Thursday evening.

“In such instances, we cannot preclude the possibility of government taking some action to ensure these strategic capabilities are preserved,” he said.

“The exact form of support will depend on the circumstances. But the bar for any government action will be high. The government will also exercise prudence and ensure public funds are well used.”

He was speaking in the context of one of three categories of firms: those in sectors that are suffering a temporary drop in demand now but will eventually recover, including tourism and aviation.

He highlighted existing aid for such sectors, such as the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers for tourism, the Enhanced Aviation Support Package, and resilience packages for arts and culture, as well as sports.

Mr Heng was speaking at the end of the two-day debate on his ministerial statement last week, setting the context for a supplementary supply bill for the reallocation of government expenditure for Covid-19 support.

Regarding aviation, Mr Heng noted that the package “will help firms retain core capabilities to position for recovery”, adding that he shared member of parliament Sharael Taha’s view that “being an air hub is strategic to our economy”.

The other two categories of firms are those that will see greater demand in the post-Covid economy, and those where the outlook remains bleak. The latter will need to reinvent themselves, and pivot into new products and sectors, said Mr Heng. These include nightlife businesses, with the government now finalising a set of measures to support them which will be announced next week.

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