Harsh truths for the F&B and public entertainment sectors

Year: 2020

In his ministerial statement announced on 17 August, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that businesses in the nightlife industry would not be able to open for the time being. FMG CEO Devadas concurs on the basis of public health and economic concerns:

“Harsh as it may seem, the impact of the government’s COVID precautionary measures on F&B and the Public Entertainment sectors is a good rather than bad policy in that it not only has a public health consideration but induces long-delayed but necessary restructuring and downsizing of what is from an economic point of view weak value-adding sectors.

There is not science, innovation, new intellectual or product value creation or export contribution by these sectors but they employ a large number on a ratio basis of low skilled foreigners, take up scarce factor inputs such as land and energy and for most Singaporeans employed in the sector, there is little or no longer-term professional progression.

Such assistance as the government can render should be non-financial such as expediting change of use applications but it should not bail out these sectors especially as, it is first, already overcrowded, second in the COVID period even if restrictions are lifted consumer sentiment will be subdued due to job losses or fear of job loss so demand will weaken anyway and finally the post- COVID recovery will be a long way down a road measured in years, not months.

While I sympathise with the business owners, access to public monies is not an entitlement.”