Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also the country’s Finance Minister for Finance, delivered a Ministerial Statement on August 17, detailing the Government’s ongoing efforts for supporting workers, businesses and protecting livelihoods, amidst the growing COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
Notably, this is the unprecedented fifth time this year that Heng has come up with such announcements; after the Unity Budget, Resilience Budget, Solidarity Budget, and the Fortitude Budget. The government will be pumping in another S$8 billion worth of measures to save current jobs, create new jobs and seize new growth opportunities.
“Close to $100 billion has been dedicated in the past four Budgets to help Singaporeans through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. While the COVID-19 situation in Singapore has come under control, the resulting economic impact on the global and Singaporean economy is severe, and will last for a while,” noted the Minister.
Contraction of Singapore’s Economy
Importantly, the global economy is projected to contract by 5% this year. And Singapore experienced its worst quarterly performance on record – a 13.2% contraction year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020.
“That’s why, it’s timely for the Government to continue to support jobs and create new ones. Further support sectors which are the hardest hit. And finally, position Singapore to seize growth opportunities in a post-COVID-19 world,” added Heng as he announced more measures to support workers and businesses on Monday.
Below is the exhaustive summary.
1. Extension of Jobs Support Scheme till March 2021
Ending in August, the JSS has now been extended by up to seven months, covering wages paid up to March 2021. The scheme has helped companies retain workers by covering a percentage of their salaries. The JSS payouts will benefit over 2 million local workers employed in more than 150,000 firms, and most businesses will receive wage support for 17 months to help them retain as many workers as possible.
Under JSS, the support will now vary sector-wise, based on their projected recovery, and is as under:
|Sectors||Support in the extended Jobs Support Scheme|
|Aerospace, aviation, tourism sectors||50% of wages paid for 7 more months|
|Built environment sector||50% of wages paid for 2 more months, before lowering to 30% for wages paid up to March 2021|
|Arts and entertainment, food services, land transport, marine and offshore, and retail sectors||30% of wages paid for 7 more months|
|For the large majority of the remaining sectors||10% of wages paid for 7 more months|
|For the few sectors that are managing well, such as biomedical sciences, financial services, and ICT sectors||10% of wages paid for 4 more months, for wages paid up to December 2020|
1. S$1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive scheme for sectors doing well
To help sectors such as the biomedical sciences, public healthcare, long-term care giving, financial services, and Information and Communications Technology – the Government has announced a S$1 billion programme called Jobs Growth Incentive. While the Ministry of Manpower will provide more details later this month, under the scheme:
- The Singapore Government will co-pay up to 25% of salaries of all new local hires for one year, subject to a cap.
- For those aged 40 and above, the co-payment to firms will be up to 50%.
Notably, there are 24 SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres spread across Singapore to help Singaporeans find a suitable job, traineeship, attachment or training. Workers can also take advantage of the NTUC Job Security Council, which was set up earlier this year, and has matched more than 20,000 displaced and at-risk workers to new opportunities.
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1. Enhancing Startup SG Founder programme
The Government has set aside up to $150 million to enhance the Startup SG Founder programme. While more details will be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) later, the funds will help start-ups:
- raise the start-up capital grant and,
- access the Government for mentorship.
2. Emerging Stronger Taskforce testing prototypes
The Emerging Stronger Taskforce set-up early this year, is in the midst of a three-month sprint to prototype new ideas through the industry-led Alliances for Action. Areas being covered include smart commerce and supply chain digitalisation.
The Taskforce is also an avenue for start-ups in Singapore to test their prototypes.
1. Extension of COVID-19 Support Grant till December 2020
The COVID-19 Support Grant, which has helped Singaporeans who are unemployed or suffered significant income loss due to the pandemic, will now be extended to December 2020. While the Ministry of Social and Family Development will share more details in early September, from October both existing recipients and new applicants, who qualify, can apply.
2. Extension of Workfare Special Payment’s eligibility criteria
For the earlier announced one-off $3,000 Workfare Special Payment, the eligibility criteria will be widened. So now, those who were not on Workfare last year, but have received or will be receiving Workfare for work done this year, will be eligible as well.
Sectors Specific Support
1.S$320 million SingapoRediscovers Vouchers to help the tourism industry
The Government has set aside S$320 million for tourism credits to encourage local tourism. Called SingapoRediscovers Vouchers, these credits provide the opportunity for Singaporeans to explore local culture and heritage, nature, art, and architecture. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) next month.
2. Enhanced Aviation Support Package
The Government will allocate an additional S$187 million to extend the support measures in the Enhanced Aviation Support Package up to March 2021. This will provide cost relief for airlines, ground handlers, cargo agents, and airport tenants, as well as; support local carriers regain air connectivity to the world.
In addition, it has been decided to scale-up the temporary redeployment programme of workers in the aviation sector. This will create over 4,000 new jobs in the healthcare sector. Notably, as on date, 500 former aircrew have already been redeployed to hospitals as Care Ambassadors.
3. Other sectors which may not open soon
Businesses in the arts and culture, and sports sectors, which will take much longer to resume full activities, will get further support by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. Details will be announced soon.
For businesses in the nightlife industry, which cannot open soon, the Government will help them transition to other activities or ease their exit. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry soon.