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The Singapore Government announced a $48.4 billion Supplementary Budget 2020 – or COVID-19 Resilience Budget – to support businesses, workers and families, as the country faces an “unprecedented crisis of a highly complex nature”.
This was necessitated because already, as per the figure released this week, the Singapore economy contracted by 10.6% quarter-on-quarter, or 2.2% year-on-year, reversing the 0.6% growth in the previous quarter. And Singapore is not alone in this. “The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have long-lasting economic repercussions, as the global economy faces demand and supply shocks, falling growth forecasts and rising uncertainty,” according to the Singapore Government.
Hence, via this Resilience Budget 2020, the Government has put additional measures to:
- mitigate the extent of the impact, and alleviate how it affects workers and livelihoods.
- help families cope during this uncertain period.
- ensure Singapore companies stay afloat during the crisis, in six ways – capacity building; cash flow, reduced cost, and access to credit, for every company; resilience building; as well as some additional help for specific sectors affected by COVID-19.
Below is the exhaustive summary of the major announcements.
How Singapore Resilience Budget 2020 is helping Singapore workers
Singapore Government has advised Singapore companies to make use of this downtime for skills upgrading of employees which will be provided in the following ways:
- Course fee subsidies will be extended to the arts and culture and land transport sectors from 1 April 2020. This is on top of enhanced training support for aviation, tourism, food services, and retail trade sectors previously announced in the February Budget.
- 90% of absentee payroll rates will be extended to all employers, to provide additional cash flow relief when they send their workers for training, from 1 May 2020.
The duration of the enhancements will also be extended, to cover eligible courses starting before 1 January 2021.
SkillsFuture Credit Top-up
From 1 April 2020, Singaporeans will be able to make use of the base $500 SkillsFuture Credit Top-up for courses ahead of the full implementation date in October.
Job Support Scheme and Wage Credit Scheme
An additional $500 million of wage credits under the enhanced support will be brought forward. Altogether, by end-May, a total of $5.6 billion, and by October, a total of $16.2 billion, will flow into the hands of businesses through the Job Support Scheme (JSS) and Wage Credit Scheme (WCS), to support more than 1.9 million local jobs. Additional payout of WCS will be brought forward from September to end-June.
Regarding JSC, it has been decided:
- The Jobs Support Scheme will be extended. The Government will co-fund 25% of local workers’ wages until December 2020. Payouts will be in May, July and October, and those earning up to $4,600 monthly will qualify.
- The Singapore Government has announced additional help for specific sectors most directly affected by COVID-19. Most important is the enhanced jobs support schemes will be rolled out for business in the aviation, tourism and food service sectors. Under these, for every local worker employed, a higher co-funding at 50% to 75% wage offset for the first $4,600 of monthly wages will be provided.
COVID-19 Support Grant
Those who have already lost their jobs due to the outbreak, the Government has announced a $145 million package, to provide lower and middle-income workers who lost their jobs with $800 every month for 3 months. Additional measures include:
- A Temporary Relief Fund will be set up in April for needy families who need help urgently – this will be available at Social Service Offices and Community Centres.
- More flexibility will also be given at this time when considering applications for ComCare, which provides assistance to those in financial hardship.
Workfare Income Supplement Scheme
For low-income workers, their incomes will be supplemented through the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme.
Workfare recipients will receive an enhanced Workfare Special Payment, a one-off cash payment of $3,000.
NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19)
For union members, NTUC will provide a one-off relief of up to $300 per union member.
For Self-Employed Individuals
For such workers, the Government has announced the following:
- A new Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will help provide direct cash assistance to the self-employed. Under this, eligible self-employed persons will receive $1,000 cash every month for 9 months.
- The Self-Employed Persons Training Support scheme will provide sustained support for them to make use of this period to train and upskill. Up to 90% of course fees will be subsidised, and from 1 May 2020, the training allowance will be $10 per hour. Union members to get an additional training allowance of up to $10 per hour. The scheme has been extended till end-2020. In total, this is a top-up of $4 million.
- There will be an automatic deferment of income tax payment for 3 months.
- The Point-to-Point Support Package to help taxi and private hire car drivers will be extended and enhanced. Eligible taxi hirers and PHC drivers will continue to receive the Special Relief Fund payments of $300 per vehicle per month until end-Sep 2020.
- The Workfare Special Supplement Payment ( one-off cash payment of $3,000) will be enhanced benefiting about 50,000 low-income self-employed persons.
Those who are seeking new jobs, the Government will launch an SGUnited Jobs virtual career fair on MyCareersFuture.sg, with more than 2,200 job vacancies. Overall, authorities hope to create over 10,000 jobs via the initiative in one year, with the public sector taking the lead and working with various trade associations and chambers to identify career opportunities.
For first-time jobseekers, the SGUnited Traineeships programme will give young Singaporeans more opportunities. Workforce Singapore will support a total of 8,000 traineeships this year, across both large and small enterprises.
How Singapore Resilience Budget 2020 is helping Singapore families
While introducing the following measures, Mr Heng noted, “The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely and will take swift action to do more if needed.”
- The Government has frozen all government fees and charges for one year, from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. This will apply to all fees for government services.
- There will be a three-month suspension of late payment charges on HDB mortgage arrears. HDB will continue to exercise flexibility when providing assistance during this period, through existing measures such as deferring payment of loan instalments for six months.
- For all graduates who have taken a government loan for their university and polytechnic studies, there will be a one-year suspension of student loan repayment and interest charges, from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021.
- Strengthening the network support for Singaporeans, the Government has decided that self-help groups will get double grants for two years. In total, this will be $20 million. Community Development Councils (CDCs) grants will also increase from $2 million to $75 million.
- All Singaporeans living in 1-room and 2-room HDB flats will receive triple of the grocery vouchers given to them, from $100 to $300, for this year.
- There will be a one-off PAssion card top-up of $100 in cash for Singaporeans aged 50 years and above.
- The Care and Support – Cash for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above, will be enhanced, as one-off cash payout will be tripled, from the earlier announced $100-$300, to a range from $300 to $900, depending on income. There will be additional help for families with young children, with cash payout to each parent tripled, from $100 to $300.
How Singapore Resilience Budget 2020 is helping Singapore companies
The following are some of the measures introduced on March 26.
- Singapore companies have been advised to make use of this downtime to digitalise, restructure, and transform. As such, they can leverage the SMEs Go Digital Programme, Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) and Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), which all have been enhanced and extended till December 2020.
- Property Tax Rebates will be enhanced.
- Rental waivers for up to 3 months have been announced. It has also been decided that all government fees and charges will be frozen for one year, from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
- To support businesses’ trade financing needs, the Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) – Trade Loan will be enhanced, with the maximum loan quantum being increased from $5 million to $10 million, and an increase in the Government’s risk-share to 80%, up from 70%.
- Subsidies to businesses for loan insurance premiums will be increased from 50% to 80%, under the Loan Insurance Scheme.
- The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP), which was introduced for the tourism sector, will be expanded to all enterprises, and the maximum supported loan will be increased from $1 million to $5 million.
- SMEs that require support beyond the TBLP can continue to tap on the EFS – SME Working Capital Loan. The maximum loan quantum for this will be further enhanced, from $600,000 to $1 million.
- The Government will work with participating financial institutions to defer capital payments for one year on the EFS-Working Capital Loan and the TBLP loans if requested by businesses, subject to assessment by the institutions.
- In addition to financing schemes, $20 billion of loan capital will be set aside this budget. This will help to support good companies with strong capabilities, and catalyse private sector loan capital.
- A $350 million enhanced aviation support package will be introduced to fund measures such as rebates on landing and parking charges, and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.
- $90 million will be set aside to help the tourism industry rebound strongly, when the time is right.