To help companies, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the focus should not be on stimulating demand as no matter what we do, we would not be able to replace the external demand that we had before.
A stimulus package would thus not be entirely helpful.
The focus should therefore be on helping companies “pivot into new markets and new product range so that we can seize the new opportunities in the new environment”.
Companies will need targeted measures to help them survive the impact of COVID-19.
3 types of companies that need help
The first are those that continue to see a growing market despite the pandemic-fuelled downturn, such as those in the biopharma and precision engineering industries.
The second are those in sectors such as retail, and food and beverage where demand has shrunk temporarily but will eventually recover.
The third and the hardest hit are those where demand is not likely to come back in the short to medium term. They include companies in the social entertainment industry.
To help companies, measures will have to be different and targeted in order for them to be useful to the respective companies, Mr Chan said.
Mr Chan said tough decisions will have to be made on how to help companies, particularly those that will not see demand return in the medium term, tide over the pandemic and pivot into new product and new markets.
For example, people in the social entertainment industry, until and unless we can come up with a new model of how we can do business safely in this COVID-19 environment, it’d be very difficult for us to imagine them coming back online like what they used to do in the previous operating model.
Mr Chan added that it can be difficult for some entrepreneurs to come to terms with the changing world after spending much time and effort building up their businesses, but he said the Government will be committed to helping them pivot to new markets and products.
As global companies reshuffle their global footprints of production and supply chains, we need to make sure that some of them will land in Singapore, Mr Chan said.
At the same time, we must make sure that we continue to defend the regional HQs (headquarters) and factories that have been planted here so that we can retain the jobs for our people, as many as possible, he added.
Factors within our control
While external demand and surges of infections in other parts of the world are not within our control, within our own borders, we can reopen our economy in a safe and sustainable way by not being complacent.
If we can open safely and sustainably, we will be able to progressively recover from the third and fourth quarter this year, Mr Chan said.