SINGAPORE - The recent slew of Covid-19 measures were announced via broadcast to give businesses and workers clarity on the Government's plans to support them before the opening of Parliament, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah in a Facebook post on Sunday (Aug 23).
Ms Indranee added that the measures would still be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny and the Government would still remain accountable.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had announced the latest measures to help Singaporeans amid the Covid-19 pandemic in a ministerial statement which was broadcast last Monday.
The $8 billion worth of measures include extending the Jobs Support Scheme, which would have ended in August, as well as extending applications for the Covid-19 Support Grant meant for Singaporeans who were laid off or suffered significant income loss.
Ms Indranee added that the early announcement would give MPs and members of the public enough time to absorb the content of the statement ahead of the opening of Parliament.
She said that though Parliament officially opens on Monday, there will not be a chance for a ministerial statement at that sitting, which is taken up by the election of the Speaker, swearing in of MPs and delivery of the President's Address.
The first business sitting of Parliament will take place on Aug 31, with MPs delving straight into the debate on the President's Address.
"If we deliver the Ministerial Statement on Aug 31 itself, MPs won't have enough time to reflect on the measures before the debate," said Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and National Development.
She added: "Also, with the President's Address being delivered on Aug 24, there will be a lot of substantive things for MPs and the public to consider between Aug 24 and 31."
Hence, the best option was to deliver the ministerial statement via broadcast before Parliament opened, said Ms Indranee.
In the coming months, the Government will seek parliamentary approval for its revised spending plans to give effect to the measures in the ministerial statement.
This will be done through a supplementary supply Bill, which will go through the usual parliamentary proceedings and will have to be assented to by the President.
Said Ms Indranee: "The Government remains accountable and all is still fully in accordance with good governance.
"It's just that we put it out sooner rather than later because it affects people's welfare and well-being, and we wanted to give enough time for proper scrutiny and deliberation."