Asian nations pledge over US$38 bil to counter virus impact

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) speaks during a meeting on the new coronavirus in Tokyo. (AP pic)

SINGAPORE: Asian governments have opened up the fiscal spigots to fight the worldwide spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

More than US$38 billion in budget support has already been pledged or is under consideration to counter the virus’ impact, with governments adopting a mix of cash handouts, tax breaks and transfers.

Here’s a look at what’s been announced so far:

China

  • Top leaders signalled a “more proactive” fiscal policy, alongside steps already taken by authorities to cushion the economy and support financial markets
  • Among the upcoming measures: more targeted, phased tax cuts; increase in local government special bond quota; more fiscal transfers from central government to local virus-hit regions

Japan

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to take additional economic measures if needed
  • Economic adviser to PM said the government should consider 5 trillion yen ($47 billion) in extra spending toward virus relief

South Korea

  • 11.7 trillion won ($9.9 billion) was allocated in a special budget to aid medical response, businesses, households
  • Tax breaks, rent subsidies announced Feb 28

Australia

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government is preparing to spend billions of Australian dollars to help businesses cope with the virus fallout

Indonesia

  • A stimulus package of 10.3 trillion rupiah ($727 million) includes fiscal incentives, grants to local governments and a boost to social security funds
  • A second, “bigger” tranche is being planned to help middle-income earners

Thailand

  • More than 100 billion baht ($3.2 billion) in special stimulus measures being considered, including soft loans, tax measures to boost stock market and cash handouts
  • The spending would add to just-passed budget that’s expected to spur 640 billion baht in investment

Singapore

  • S$6.4 billion ($4.6 billion) allocated in annual budget toward virus response, support for businesses and consumers
  • Of that, S$800 million is dedicated spending to combat virus, the bulk of which will go to the Health Ministry

Hong Kong

  • HK$120 billion ($15 billion) relief package announced in annual budget
  • Includes HK$10,000 payment to each permanent resident 18 years or older

Malaysia

  • 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) allocated in a special stimulus package
  • Spending will focus on aiding businesses, especially tourism. Package also includes lower minimum pension contribution, tax payment extension, infrastructure upgrades