Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party will campaign on job creation, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday.
Singapore will hold its elections next Friday, July 10. The ruling party’s election campaign is focused on providing jobs for the people.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced his decision to hold the general election last wekk as the country gradually relaxes most of its partial lockdown measures which aim to contain the coronavirus.
Balakrishnan, a member of the ruling People’s Action Party, presented several reasons why the government intended to hold an election amid the risk of infection cases rising again as social interactions resume.
“The first point I want to make is that we do not believe this crisis is going to recede in the next one year, or maybe even two years. It depends on when a vaccine is created,” he said during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
Singapore recorded over 43,000 cases, and more than 90% of infected individuals are migrant workers who reside in dormitories. They are mostly men from other Asian countries with labor-intensive tasks in Singapore.
Balakrishnan added that by the constitution, the current parliament’s term ends in January 2021. “If we don’t have a parliament in February next year, we will not have a budget,” he said.
He noted that as Singapore reopens its economy, the city-state is in a “reasonably safe space” where the infection is managed and individuals are coming back work. He believes it would be difficult, and potentially more dangerous, to conduct elections later.
Earlier this year, Singapore’s central bank predicted a deeper-than-projected recession for the city-state, which relies heavily on international trade. According to the International Monetary Fund, the world is grappling with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Balakrishnan noted the current public health crisis remains a clear and present threat to people and their livelihoods.
“The central focus of our campaign will be jobs, jobs, jobs. And jobs for all segments of our society,” he said. “People who have just graduated, entering into the greatest depression that the world has seen, their number one concern will be jobs.”
Many fresh graduates in Singapore and elsewhere may find it difficult to get jobs because many companies hesitate to hire new individuals due to the negative impact of the coronavirus crisis on their business this year.
According to Balakrishnan, those between 40 and 60 are part of a generation with current commitments and still carry the burden of the economic restructuring.
The minister said Singapore’s National Jobs Council aims to produce 100,000 opportunities, such as jobs, attachments, and trainee opportunities — in the next one year.
“We think because of the prolonged nature of this crisis, there will be retrenchments, there will be disruption to the jobs sector. And that’s why we are focused so obsessively with the situation on jobs,” Balakrishnan said.
Most of Singapore’s fiscal stimulus worth 100 billion Singapore dollars (about $70.4 billion) aims to assist companies with keeping afloat and encouraging them to hire Singaporeans, he added.