Firms in Singapore report worst performance since 2008 hinh anh 1A restaurant that sells only takeaways in Singapore amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – Enterprises in Singapore recorded their worst performance in the first quarter of 2020 since the global financial crisis of 2008 as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the economy to stagnation, a recent business climate survey showed.

The poll of 151 firms, conducted by the Singapore University of Social Sciences and the Business Times, revealed that their revenue, profit, orders and new business activities fell sharply.

Up to 84 percent of the respondents believed that their business performance would worsen in the next six months, compared to 76 percent in Q4 of 2019. This is also the highest rate since the first survey conducted in 1996.

According to economist Tan Khay Boon at SIM Global Education, the pandemic’s short-term impact will be considerable declines in output and investment sources and an unemployment surge. In the medium term, businesses will face more pressure to cut expenses, improve operational efficiency and seek new clients.

Experts Chow Kit Boey and Chan Cheong Chiam forecast the Singaporean economy may contract 4.3-5 percent in Q2 compared to the same period last year.

Chow said if the country has to continue strict restrictions after June 1, its economy will shrink by 7 percent in Q2, the strongest contraction since the global financial crisis.

However, Chua Hak Bin, a senior economist at Maybank Kim Eng, said such a projection is too optimistic since the survey was conducted from March 13 to April 15, before lockdown measures were extended through May. He forecast Singapore’s economy could shrink 15-20 percent in Q2.

The survey also indicated that major enterprises were more pessimistic than small firms, which Chua said may come from the fact that the Singaporean Government’s financial aid packages mainly target small- and medium-sized companies and labourers./.