Covid-halted construction drags Singapore into recession

Singapore entered a recession in the second quarter of this year after its economy shrank 41.2% in the three months to July from the previous quarter, owing to measures to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Construction nearly stopped altogether, shrinking 95.6% quarter on quarter, far more than any other sector.

Taking a longer view, the country’s economy shrank by 12.6% year on year in the second quarter, with construction shrinking 54.7% year on year, according to advance estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry released on Tuesday, 14 July.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the figures were expected given the unprecedented lockdown measures that were in place from 7 April to 1 June and the pandemic’s disruptions to the global economy.

"The road to recovery in the months ahead will be challenging," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"We expect recovery to be a slow and uneven journey, as external demand continues to be weak and countries battle the second and third waves of outbreaks by reinstating localised lockdowns or stricter safe distancing measures.

"Domestically, the pace of our recovery will also depend on how well we manage the public health situation and whether we are able to keep infections in the community low."

Covid dealt Singapore’s construction industry a double blow by stopping work on site and infecting dormitories where foreign construction workers live.

In the second quarter, manufacturing in Singapore shrank 23.1% and services shrank 37.7%.

Image: Foreign workers employed by Singaporean contractor Woh Hup queue to collect meals for their roommates (From the Facebook page of Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority)

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