The government’s biggest priority now is to ensure Singaporeans can keep their jobs, or find new ones.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that no Singaporeans will be left on their own as the country looks to bounce back from the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
PM Lee made the remarks in his address to the nation on Sunday (Jun 7) evening. The speech is the first of six national broadcasts that will be made by several ministers over two weeks.
Calling the situation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic a “crisis of a generation”, PM Lee said while emergency measures have been taken to help everyone come through the crisis together, Singapore will have difficult decisions to make on priorities, resources and budgets.
“But the values guiding us remain the same: Every Singaporean will have equal opportunities. Whatever your starting point in life, you will have access to good education, healthcare, and housing.
“If you fall down, we will help you to get up stronger. You can be sure you will be taken care of. In Singapore, no one will be left to walk his journey alone,” said PM Lee.
PM Lee also added that the government’s biggest priority now is to help Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones.
The concern is on those in their 40s and 50s who are supporting children and elderly parents at the same time, and have financial commitments to meet; mature workers nearing retirement who want to work a few more years to build up their retirement funds; lower income workers; the self-employed and freelancers; and fresh graduates entering the job market.
Apart from schemes already introduced to help these groups, such as the job support scheme, workfare special payment, self-employed person income relief, COVID-19 support grant and the SGUnited jobs and skills package, PM Lee also emphasised on the newly created National Jobs Council, headed by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, which will create over 100,000 jobs.
“So if you need a job, there are real options to pursue and you will have help and support,” said PM Lee.
However, he also mentioned that the tourism industry is unlikely to recover fully, adding that quick trips to nearby countries will no longer be easy to take.
“International travel will be much less frequent. Health checks and quarantines will become the norm. It will no longer be so easy to take quick weekend trips to Bangkok or Hong Kong on budget flights.
“Industries that depend on travel, like aviation, hotels and tourism, will take a long time to get back on their feet, and may never recover fully,” he said.
Singapore will also step up testing and contact tracing significantly to catch new cases early and stamp out clusters before they grow.
If all goes well and the outbreak remains under control, Singapore will ease up measures further and allow resumption of more activities as soon as possible, said PM Lee, who urged Singaporeans and its residents to continue playing their part.
“My Cabinet team, with the support of the whole public service, will do our best to lead us towards this enduring vision of what Singapore can be. We need every one of you to work with us,” said the Prime Minister.
“Together, let us take Singapore safely through this crisis, and make the Singapore spirit flourish in the world.”
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