S’pore economy expected to bounce back in 2021, dependent on progress of vaccinations: PM Lee

Singapore — After the unparalleled decline in 2020, the bulk of Singapore’s economy is expected to recover this year, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Feb 12).
Speaking to media on Chinese New Year, Mr Lee highlighted that the bulk of the country’s economy is expected to bounce back this 2021, although some sectors such as transport, tourism and aviation may take longer to do so.
“Last year was minus five to six per cent. That was particularly also because we had a Circuit Breaker period, which had a big impact on activity,” Mr Lee was quoted as saying by channelnewsasia.com.
“I am not sure that even if we bounce back, we will be able to get back beyond where we were in 2019, before Covid-19 hit.”
According to preliminary findings released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in January  2021, Singapore’s economy shrank a record 5.8 per cent during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, most industries experienced improvements in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the country exited the Circuit Breaker period and restrictions were eased.
Mr Lee highlighted that recovery would be dependent on how the nationwide vaccination initiative progresses and the rate of similar initiatives in other countries such as the United States and Europe, given Singapore’s economy is heavily reliant on global trade.
“First of all, for vaccinations, we have hedged our bets, and we have ordered and pre-ordered vaccines from multiple suppliers. I hope that not all of them will get disrupted,” said Mr Lee.
“There may be disruptions and delays along the way as we have seen earlier. I think the flows look like a reasonable prospect of starting up and making good again. You see Pfizer-BioNTech, for example, saying that they are going to restart their plant and then it will expand their capacity.”
He added: “I am reasonably confident that we will get the vaccines we need this year.”
Should vaccine supplies be delayed, Singapore’s vaccination programme would be stretched out a bit longer, resulting in an extended and stricter implementation of safe management measures.
“But we can live with that. Even if we have vaccinated most of the people in Singapore, I do not think that it will enable us to go back completely to normal. We will have to move to living with Covid-19 in some form for quite some time,” said Mr Lee.
Prior to his statements on Friday, the Prime Minister had visited the Singapore Airlines Cabin Crew Control Centre at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and Changi General Hospital to “bring festive cheer and thank their teams for keeping Singapore going, not just today on Chinese New Year, but every single day of the year”.
In a Facebook post on Friday, he noted how the healthcare and aviation sectors had had a tough year due to the pandemic. “As we celebrate the festive season (safely) with our families and friends, let us remember to thank workers – from frontline and essential services to transport and retail, and many more – whose hard work allows so many others to enjoy the holiday.”
Mr Lee made special mention of SIA crew for continuing to fly the Singapore flag high. “Many staff who are not actively flying have been serving in the community, some as digital ambassadors to the elderly, or patient care ambassadors at hospitals. Keep up the good work, and let us see through this crisis together,” he added. /TISG
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