Singapore fights recession with upbeat acronyms

Mon Feb 9, 2009 11:34pm EST
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Not content with a $13.7 billion financial stimulus package, Singapore has unveiled a raft of economic recovery schemes with titles so perky they are almost "comical," the Straits Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

"Like a line-up of cheerleaders, each one perkier and more exuberant than the last, the parade of acronyms bordered on the comical," the national paper reported, noting that they helped lighten the mood in parliament.

The small southeast Asian state, well-known for its government's love of officious-sounding acronyms, became the first nation in Asia to declare a recession in October 2008. In January, its prime minister said it may not come out of the recession this year.

Here are some of the schemes the government is backing: BOOST -- "Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism," a $60 million plan to secure market demand in the tourism industry. It was announced by the Singapore Tourist Board in the face of an expected drop in tourist numbers to around 9 million this year.

BUILD -- "Business Upgrading Initiatives for Long-term Development," a $134 million fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises become more competitive through capability development.

PREP-UP -- "Preparing for the Upturn," a $67 million collection of training schemes which aims to help companies develop personnel in science and technology through funding programs such as on-the-job training for new graduates.

SPUR -- "Skills Program for Upgrading and Resilience" was launched in December to help companies retrain workers, save jobs, and cut companies' retraining costs. The $400 million scheme is run by the Workforce Development Agency and the Ministry of Manpower. It received an additional $100 million in the January budget.

YES! -- "Young Entrepreneur Scheme," help young Singaporeans nurture innovative startups by giving them cash from a $16 million Entrepreneurial Talent Development Fund.

(Reporting by Gillian Murdoch; editing by Miral Fahmy)