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Financial crisis on agenda at informal Asean summit


October 20, 2008

Financial crisis on agenda at informal Asean summit
Asean leaders will discuss the global financial situation at an informal summit in Beijing next week where they will be attending the Asia Europe Meeting, reported Channel News Asia.

The city-state news agency quoted Foreign Minister George Yeo as saying that  Singaporeans should be prepared for retrenchments as the financial crisis continues.

The last time Singapore was hit by recession in 2003, the government announced a S$1 billion help package. Needy families could count on utility rebates and financial aid to get them through the difficult times.

It is not sure how bad the recession will be this time round but community leaders promise that help will be available to those who need it.

Minister George Yeo said: "Every financial downturn is different, society has changed and the needs are not identical with those of yesteryears. So, I think we should learn from past experiences but should take a fresh approach and be creative in our response.”

Meanwhile Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said the government is looking at how it can help Singaporeans overcome temporary economic hardship next year.

Goh, who was speaking at a community event on Saturday, said Singapore's economy is expected to grow by about 3 per cent this year, but next year's growth could be even slower.

But the senior minister believes that with Singapore's current diversified economy and strong economic fundamentals, the country can bounce back if Singaporeans stick together.

"The government is already thinking about what it can do to help businesses and ordinary Singaporeans – in particular lower income Singaporeans – next year," he said.

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