Singapore: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday announced snap general elections to allow a fresh five-year mandate to a new government to take important decisions to revive the city-state’s economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - Soft Copies, 6 Feet Distance, Sanitisers: New Rules For Parliamentary Panel Meets

Prime Minister Lee on Tuesday advised President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament and issue the writ for election, 10-months ahead of the schedule. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh Now Has Over 1,000 Containment Zones, Indore Tops The List

In a televised address to the nation, 68-year-old Lee said that holding an election now will clear the decks and give the new government a fresh five-year mandate to focus on the national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make. Also Read - China Did Not Report COVID-19 Outbreak in Initial Stages, WHO Takes U-Turn

President Yacob dissolved Parliament on the prime minister’s advice, setting the stage for the General Election in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Prime Minister also advised that Nomination day be on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, and the President has agreed,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Polling Day will be announced by the Returning Officer,” said the statement. But it is likely to be July 10, according to media reports.

Elections must be held by April 2021 at the latest. Lee’s ruling dominant People’s Action Party holds a majority in the current 105-seat Parliament and has been in governance for decades.

Prime Minister Lee said the other alternative available to him was to wait for the COVID-9 pandemic to get over, which was not specific when.

“The alternative is to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this government’s term must end next April, he said.

We need a capable government, with the strong backing of the people, to do all that needs to be done on your behalf, and see us through the tumultuous times, said Lee, acknowledging challenges and uncertainties of managing the economy in the coming years.

An election now when things are relatively stable will clear the decks, and give the new Government a fresh five-year mandate. This is why I have decided to hold the General Election now, said Lee who had recounted the challenges of managing pandemic so far with a 100 billion Singapore dollars budget to save jobs and businesses.

The announcement of snap polls came at a time when Singapore is heading towards its worst-ever recession in nearly two decades as the country faces severe economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Singapore is expected to shrink between 4 and 7 per cent this year, down from the previous projected range of a contraction between 1 and 4 per cent, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said last month.