More than six months after the Covid-19 virus first emerged, the global economy continues to feel the effects of this unprecedented healthcare crisis. Countries that had appeared to have the pandemic under control are now facing second and third waves of infections. Meanwhile, businesses continue to suffer heavy losses due to safe distancing and travel restrictions.
Singapore has not been spared the fallout, and its ability to navigate difficult conditions is once again on show during this difficult period. The government has rolled out a series of five budget packages worth about S$100 billion (US$73 billion) to support businesses and workers who have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Besides cushioning the economy from the near-term shocks, policymakers have kept their eyes firmly on the horizon as they persevere with the country’s longer-term transformation. Whether it’s supporting local companies in their efforts to restructure their operations for the digital era, to spread their wings abroad, or to upgrade their workers’ skills, Singapore is once again positioning itself for success in the long run.
Covid-19 has also highlighted the need for businesses to react quickly to a fast-changing landscape. With consumer needs shifting rapidly due to the pandemic, companies will need to leverage innovation to develop offerings that are relevant to their customers.
Painting solutions specialist Nippon Paint, for instance, is ramping up its investments in research and development during this time to deliver valuable customer-centric solutions. One key initiative in this effort involves the development of painting products that inhibit the growth of viruses on surfaces.
Nippon Paint is supporting communities that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic in other ways—from cash injections to donations of antiviral coatings to hospitals. In China, for instance, the company has donated 2 million yuan (US$290,000) to the Red Cross in Xianning city, Hubei province.
There are others who see interest in their company-led solutions amid the crisis. For example, in the insurance sector, Covid-19 has prompted consumers to review their need for financial protection. According to Swiss Re’s Covid-19 Consumer Survey, more than a quarter of the 6,000 respondents surveyed across 10 markets in Asia-Pacific are worried about how they will come out of the pandemic financially, and many are prioritizing insurance as a “must have” during this time.
Furthermore, the pandemic is threatening efforts of business leaders to deal with longer-term issues such as climate risk. Global property insurance leader FM Global notes that Covid-19 has the potential to compound the impact of natural catastrophes due to restrictions on movement and essential services.
A survey conducted by the firm before the pandemic found at least 34% of Asia-Pacific executives thought their organization is significantly exposed to climate risk, while 57% of Asia-Pacific respondents said addressing climate risk was a high priority in their company.
The Singapore government has shown its commitment to climate action, even as it deals with more immediate problems. In February, it announced measures in its annual budget to promote sustainable living and to support the use of electric vehicles.
This persistent focus on the long term has helped Singapore overcome uncertainties time and again since its independence 55 years ago, and positioned the country to emerge stronger after each crisis.