After concluding that the situation was truly exceptional, the next question was how much of the past reserves she would allow the government to draw down.
Describing it as a “very intense process”, Mdm Halimah recalled the briefings she sat through with ministers and government officials, to ask them questions and hear them justify how much they need.
“If you say the health situation is critical, what do you mean by that? Hospitals, if you say it’s going to be overwhelmed, if you don’t have additional facilities, what do you mean by that?” she added.
“So once we’ve established that, then we go to the second part, and that is the question of how much to draw down. And that is for the government then to justify, to say we need this amount, these billions of dollars for these purposes and these programs, and the programs are then all itemised,” said Mdm Halimah.
“Once they provide that, then we understand better the situation, then we can talk about whether we want to support the government’s request to draw down the past reserves.”
One of her main considerations was to ensure that there would be enough left in the reserves to support future generations, said the outgoing President.
“That is definitely one of the main consideration, whether we are depleting our capital in allowing the drawdown,” she added.
“But then this is a critical moment and the reserves were accumulated not just for the future but also how to support the current Singaporeans who are parents of this future generation.”
For example, people who are parents might have lost their jobs, or have their income reduced because companies cannot continue to pay their full salaries.
“If the parents can’t do that, the future generation will be affected. I mean, they can’t take care of their family.”
Watch Halimah Yacob: A President For Everyone at 9pm SG, Sep 12 on CNA.