Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat stressed that the Government has always been open and transparent with Singaporeans.
Responding to Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh’s criticism on the Government’s public engagement on the use of masks, Mr Chee said that that the Government had already started explaining to the public its position on masks even before the virus was called Covid-19.
The explanations included explaining that there were supply constraints globally and ensuring supplies for those that need it most, he added.
“This Government has always been open and transparent with Singaporeans,” he said, adding that new information and evidence will always be communicated similarly.
On the question on face shield, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the reason is face shields leave gaps between the shield and one’s face, imposing certain risks, especially during the reopening where interactions will increase.
But in situations such as during teaching, among other circumstances, shields are allowed, as it is important for teachers to be clearly heard and see and interact with children, he added.
The use of Contingencies Funds is not new: DPM Heng Swee Keat
Addressing Mr Singh’s question on the use of the Contingencies Funds, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat says that this is not new, and that each year, the Government will set aside S$3 billion as a buffer in the Contingencies Fund and the Development Contingencies Fund.
First, the President’s concurrence must be sought to draw down these funds, and they must later be replaced through a subsequent supplementary supply Bill or final supply Bill that must be presented and approved by Parliament before seeking the President’s assent.
When the uncertainties subside, the Government can reduce the amount set aside in the Contingencies Funds, he adds.
Commenting on the draw of past reserves, Mr Heng noted that for most countries, borrowing is the only way to fund their large stimulus packages, which increases the risk of unsustainable debt financing, which has severe consequences for the economy in the long run.