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Singapore To Fix Slowing Economy

June 23, 1998

SINGAPORE (AP) _ As the Asian crisis looms ever larger, Singapore plans to aid its slowing economy with long-anticipated special measures, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday.

``Next Monday ... the finance minister will announce in Parliament a package of off-budget measures to ameliorate the economic slowdown,″ Information and Arts Minister George Yeo said in a speech to international political and business leaders.

He said the measures will ``reduce business costs, and help businesses to cope with this difficult period, rather than to pump-prime the economy or stimulate consumption.″

Singapore has been inching toward possible recession since the start of the year, though its leaders have been reluctant to side with private forecasts that are increasingly pointing toward contraction.

Finance Minister Richard Hu told Parliament on June 1 that the government might introduce tax rebates and increase the pace of infrastructure spending if second quarter data revealed slower growth than expected.

Figures released Saturday showed that May non-oil exports, a key measure of overall economic performance and the latest information on second quarter activity, declined 4.8 percent from a year earlier.

Despite growing dissent from the private sector over the past few months, the government had stood by its forecast of growth between 2.5 and 4.5 percent this year. That prediction was made in February, however, before a clear picture of the severity of Asia’s economic crisis had emerged.

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