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After its worst shrinkage, Singapore sees 2021 economic rebound | Business and Economy News



With more stimulus expected, government forecasts growth of between 4-6 percent in 2021, but recovery seen as ‘uneven’.

Singapore reaffirmed its forecast for a rebound in economic growth this year after its worst annual contraction since independence, signaling the recovery is on track while more stimulus expected in this week’s annual budget presentation will provide further support.

The Ministry of Trade & Industry on Monday maintained its projection for growth in a range of 4% to 6% for 2021, seeing a faster rollout of the vaccine in advanced economies while the U.S. and Europe could achieve population immunity in the second half of the year. Those gains could be offset by a bleaker regional outlook with the resurgence of the virus in some countries.

“The Singapore economy is projected to see a gradual recovery in 2021,” with gross domestic product not expected to return to pre-Covid levels until the second half of the year, Gabriel Lim, permanent secretary at the ministry, told reporters Monday. “The pace of recovery is also expected to remain uneven across sectors.”

The Singapore dollar was steady at 1.3248 per U.S. dollar as of 8:37 a.m. local time.

Trade-reliant Singapore took a beating last year, shrinking 5.4%, the MTI said, revising its preliminary estimate from last month for a 5.8% contraction. The aviation, transport and hospitality sectors have suffered from the tourism standstill and mobility restrictions — and are expected to remain weak this year, Lim said — while financial and professional services were more resilient during lockdown and the aftermath.

“There were upward revisions to all sectors, notably in construction and services,” Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore, said of the GDP report. However, he noted, the data have “little implication for monetary policy,” and he expects the Monetary Authority of Singapore to remain on hold all year.

Budget Due

The monetary authority, which uses the exchange rate as its main policy tool, affirmed its stance remains appropriate and unchanged, Deputy Managing Director Edward Robinson told reporters Monday. The MAS’s next scheduled policy decision is in April.

Singapore’s daily locally transmitted virus cases have hovered close to zero for the past several weeks, encouraging plans to welcome more visitors this year under varying security arrangements, while others in the region, including Indonesia and Malaysia, are battling surges that are exacerbating their economic pain.

Economists in a Bloomberg survey predict Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will announce another fiscal deficit when he unveils details of the upcoming financial year budget on Tuesday, which is expected to include targeted support for vulnerable households and businesses.

Singapore’s government said last week that its five stimulus packages announced in 2020, coupled with loose monetary policy, saved the economy from a contraction of 12.4% or more last year.

Other Details

  • The ministry also published final economic estimates for the fourth quarter, which showed GDP grew a non-annualized, seasonally adjusted 3.8% from the previous three months, better than the 2.4% estimated and the earlier projection of 2.1%. It fell 2.4% from a year earlier, better than the 3.6% contraction expected
  • Manufacturing contracted 1.4% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, services expanded 4.1%, and construction rose 55.6%
  • In a separate report Monday, Enterprise Singapore said it sees non-oil export growth in a range of 0% to 2% in 2021, after it rose 4.3% in 2020
  • Inflation could rise in the second quarter on statistical base effects, MAS said

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Top New York state lawmaker says Cuomo ‘must resign’ | Politics News



Pressure is mounting on Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing increased pressure to step down, after he was accused by several women of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour.

In a statement shared by local media on Sunday, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said accounts of alleged wrongdoing against Cuomo are “drawing away from the business of government”.

“New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign,” she said.

Several women have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct, including inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, as well as unwanted sexual advances.

Cuomo, who drew national attention for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, has also been criticised after US media outlets reported that his top aides obscured the true number of people killed by the coronavirus in the state’s nursing homes.

“We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the COVID-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project,” Stewart-Cousins said in her statement.

Cuomo has also faced criticism after US media reported his aides obscured the true number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes in New York state [File: Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo]

State Assembly Speaker Carl E Heastie also spoke out on Sunday about the allegations, which he described as “deeply disturbing” and having “no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else”.

“I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor’s ability to continue to lead this state. We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” Heastie said in a statement, as reported by local media.

While Cuomo at first denied any wrongdoing, he said on February 28 that he “never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm”.

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he said in a statement at that time.

New York is still in the midst of this pandemic… We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Senate Majority Leader

Last week, he apologised and said he would cooperate with an investigation into his conduct, but would not resign.

He reiterated that position on Sunday, telling reporters during a conference call that it would be “anti-democratic” for him to step down.

“They don’t override the people’s will, they don’t get to override elections,” said Cuomo, when asked about members of his own party calling for his resignation. “I was elected by the people of New York state. I wasn’t elected by politicians.”

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