S’pore set for worst recession due to pandemic

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Singapore, May 26 (IANS) Singapore’s economy is set for its worst recession in the history of the city state, with its 2020 GDP growth forecast downgraded to between -7 per cent and -4 per cent due to the economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry released a new update and amended the 2020 growth forecast for the third time in less than three months, reports Efe news.

The previous forecasted range was -1 per cent to -4 per cent.

“Notwithstanding the downgrade, there continues to be a significant degree of uncertainty over the length and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the trajectory of the economic recovery, in both the global and Singapore economies,” the Ministry said in its statement.

Singapore also lowered its 2020 forecast for non-oil domestic exports, to between -1 and -4 per cent, from the previous -0.05 per cent to 1.5 per cent, despite a rise in demand for pharmaceuticals due to the global fight against the virus.

The Ministry said “the outlook for the Singapore economy has weakened further since March,” citing sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale trade and transportation and storage “affected by the sharper-than-expected slowdown in many of Singapore’s key markets, as well as more prolonged supply chain disruptions”.

It added that so-called “circuit breaker” measures, including the closure of business premises, “have further dampened domestic economic activity, along with domestic consumption”, and that “sectors like construction and marine and offshore engineering have been severely affected by manpower shortages due to the outbreak of infections among foreign workers”.

Singapore has been recording a slow decline in the number of infections after a surge in new cases among foreign workers residing in dormitories on the outskirts of the city.

The city state has so far reported 31,960 confirmed cases and 23 deaths due to COVID-19.

It has also announced a phased easing of social distancing restrictions from June 2.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s government has so far approved three stimulus packages to revive the economy, and on Tuesday, Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat is expected to announce a fourth set of measures aimed at aiding families and businesses.