Sat, Feb 15, 2020 - Page 10 News List

Singapore may face recession: PM

‘SIGNIFICANT’ IMPACT:Economists have said that they expect the government to roll out a virus relief package of at least S$700 million and to revise growth forecasts

Reuters, SINGAPORE

Tourists wearing masks on Thursday pull their trolley bags through the Jewel Changi Airport mall in Singapore.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Singapore’s economy could enter a recession due to the blow from an outbreak of COVID-19 in China, its prime minister said yesterday, adding that the city-state was bracing for a “significant” hit in the coming quarters.

“The impact will be significant at least in the next couple of quarters. It is a very intense outbreak,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said in a video interview posted on Facebook.

“I can’t say whether we will have a recession or not. It’s possible, but definitely our economy will take a hit,” Lee said in remarks made to media at Changi Airport.

Lee said that business at the airport had suffered with flights down by a third.

Singapore has in effect banned all visitors from China, its biggest source of tourists, while some countries have advised against travel to Singapore, which has one of the highest virus infection tallies outside China at 58.

Its manufacturing and trade sectors might also be hit by widespread economic disruptions in China due to the outbreak.

The Asian business hub had just been showing signs of recovery from its lowest growth rate in a decade last year — at 0.7 percent — when the outbreak spread to the city-state late last month.

Singapore is due to release final fourth-quarter growth data on Monday, and economists said they are anticipating revisions to its growth forecast range of 0.5 to 2.5 percent this year.

On Tuesday, the government is set to roll out a hefty package of budget measures to cushion the economic blow from the epidemic, with some analysts expecting it to run its biggest deficit in more than a decade.

Economists at Citigroup Inc and Maybank Investment Bank Bhd expect a virus relief package of at least S$700 million (US$503 million).

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