COVID-19: 7 Government Support and Grants That Help SMEs Stay Afloat 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly put many Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to the test. Businesses are not thinking about how much profits they can make this year, or about hitting the year-on-year growth target, but basically everyone is just struggling for survival, and to stay afloat.   

 

Singapore’s 4th Fortitude Budget was just announced two weeks ago on 26th May 2020, and it aims to provide more Government support to fight the effects of Covid-19 on our economy. Close to S$100 billion in financial support has been pumped in to prepare for tough times ahead.

 

If you have missed out on certain Government support or grants previously, be sure to take note of the following initiatives, and the deadlines for application!



  1. Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS)

One of the core initiatives that the Government has provided for businesses is to relief cash flow. JSS helps employers to retain and continue paying their employees by providing wage support of 25%-75% for ten months, from Oct 2019 to Aug 2020. 

 

The Government co-funds between 25% - 75%, depending on the business sectors, of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each employee through direct cash subsidies to companies. Only in April and May 2020, all firms will receive a 75% wage support due to the Circuit Breaker period. JSS payouts are in April, July and October 2020, with a special payout in May 2020. 

 

Firms that are not allowed to reopen after Circuit Breaker ends on 1st June will also get wage support at 75% until August 2020 or when they are allowed to reopen, whichever is earlier.

 

If you are still unsure about which tier of co-funding your company is eligible for, please enquire via JSS Additional Tier eligibility, or call 1800-352-4728 (8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday).

 

On 21st April 2020, the Government has also announced that JSS will be extended to cover wages of employees in a company who are also shareholders and directors of the company (shareholder-directors). This will only be applicable to companies registered on or before 20th April 2020, and shareholder-directors’ must have Assessable Income of S$100,000 or less for the Year of Assessment 2019.

 

Read more about the computation for JSS payout here.



  1. Rental Relief Framework for SMEs

Amendments to Singapore’s Covid-19 regulations have been made on 5th June 2020 to enforce landlords to provide SMEs with more rental relief. Co-sharing of rental obligations between the Government, Landlords and tenants has been made mandatory. 

 

 

Eligible SME tenants can receive a total of 4 months’ (Apr 2020 to Jul 2020) rental waiver for commercial properties, and a total of 2 months’ (Apr 2020 and May 2020) rental waiver for industrial and office properties. Rental relief also applies to SMEs who are sub-tenants and licensees.

 

To be eligible for the rental relief, SMEs’ turnover for 2019 must not be more than S$100 million, substantial drop of at least 35% in average monthly revenue during Covid-19 compared to the year before, and tenancy must be in force on 1st April 2020 and must have been: (i) entered into before 25th March 2020; or (ii) entered into before 25th March 2020 but expired and was renewed automatically, or in exercise of a right of renewal in the contract. 



  1. Enterprise Financing Scheme - Government-Assisted Loans

Cash flow continues to be the biggest concern for SMEs, even before Covid-19. There may be cash grants like JSS and rental waiver to help SMEs tide through this difficult time now, but those are just able to relieve the burden off SMEs temporarily. What is more important is to have a healthy cash flow not just to support operations costs right now, but also to be able to plan ahead for the recovery period. This is where an SME business loan, such as Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and Working Capital Loan, is able to help.

 

Government has enhanced financing support for businesses by increasing risk share to 90% for Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS)-Trade Loan, EFS-SME Working Capital Loan, and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme for loans initiated from 8th April 2020 to 31st March 2021. 

 

Interest rates for these government-assisted loans have also been reduced by half to as low as 2.5% per annum Effective Interest Rate for some businesses. Firms have the option to defer principal repayment, which means they only service the interest payment for the first 12 months, and thereafter continue to service the principal and interest payments for the remaining loan tenor.

 

There has been a spike in the volume of SME business loan applications over the past three months by more than 10 times. Turnaround time is also taking much longer than usual. But over the past two weeks, we have seen more business loan approvals and funds disbursement to SMEs. (Funds disbursement could take about 1 week or up to 1 month for different banks.)

 

The process of a loan application can be very cumbersome and some banks may ask for more documents than others. Lending criteria also differ across banks and financial institutions. Before you start to blindly apply, find out more about SME business loans here.



  1. 3rd Round of Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) Rebate

There are close to 500,000 foreign workers on Work Permit or S Pass in Singapore, with the construction sector most heavily reliant on them. Unfortunately, these foreign workers also constitute the majority of Covid-19 cases. All businesses in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors, as well as businesses not permitted to resume operations after 1st June 2020, will be eligible for the 3rd round of FWL rebate.

 

Eligible businesses will be entitled to a flat rate of S$750 in June 2020, and S$375 in July 2020 for each S Pass or Work Permit holder in employment as at 1st June 2020 and 1st July 2020 respectively. 

 

Please ensure that you have paid up to December 2019 for FWL in full, and make an online acknowledgement by 10th June 2020 that you accept the conditions for receiving the levy rebate for July and August 2020. For employers who need to seek clarification on the conditions, MOM will allow an extension up till 30th June 2020 to submit the acknowledgement, in order to receive payment in August 2020.

 

Exact date for disbursement of the rebate will be specified later.

For more information, please refer to the Ministry of Manpower.



  1. P-Max Grant

P-Max is a Place-and-Train Programme by Workforce Singapore (WSG) to help SMEs to better recruit, train, manage and retain their newly-hired Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs).

 

If your company has recently (within the last 3 months) hired a new Singaporean or Permanent Resident (PR) employee who falls under the PMET category, sign up for the P-Max Programme now. PMET must be offered a monthly salary of at least S$2,500. You will be eligible to claim a one-time Assistance Grant of S$5,000 if your company successfully retains the PMET for at least 6 months after attending the P-Max workshop. If your newly-hired PMET is a Singaporean aged 50 years and above, you will be eligible for a S$10,000 assistance grant. 

 

The P-Max workshop consists of a 2-day training curriculum, whereby a Supervisor will attend the first day together with the PMET, and the PMET is required to attend both days. Workshops are currently conducted virtually, with available dates on 24 & 26 June and 25 & 26 June 2020. (Updated August dates: 13 & 14 August 2020.) The workshop is 90% subsidized by WSG, and course fees vary depending on the administrator of the programme. (After subsidy, it is approximately S$188, payable by SMEs. For PMETs aged 50 years and above, supervisors will be required to attend an additional 1-day Age Management Workshop at S$50.)

 

Take advantage of the lull period now to send your supervisor and PMET for training and claim up to S$10,000 Assistance Grant.

Click here to register now!

Ends 31st December 2020.



  1. E-Commerce Booster Package

Covid-19 has changed the way many SMEs do their businesses - from brick and mortar retailers and heartland enterprises, many of them have taken their business online to reach out to customers.

 

The E-commerce Booster Package by Enterprise Singapore comprises the Digital Marketing Programme which aims to help SMEs enhance digital marketing capabilities, increase brand awareness and sales conversions. 

 

SMEs will receive funding support of up to 90% for digital marketing advisory services for 3 months, and an additional one-time support of up to 90% of qualifying manpower costs for 3 months, up to 3 Singaporeans / Permanent Resident employees directly involved in the project.

 

Retailers and businesses that are interested to grow their online traffic and sales through social media can fill in the Interest Form here. Last day of application is 30th September 2020.

 

The Programme covers online Masterclasses over 6 phases in 3 months, consultation calls and planning twice a month, and practical hands-on live streaming sessions. The Programme costs S$10,000, whereby S$9,000 (90%) will be funded by Enterprise Singapore. SMEs only pay S$1,000 for marketing media / influencer fees. 



  1. Productivity Solutions Grant with Singtel Business Laptop Bundle

One of the most popular grants amongst our readers. Once again, Smart Towkay does NOT represent Singtel nor M1, but we will be glad to help with any query. 

 

As remote working becomes the norm in Singapore, SMEs that are looking to purchase a laptop for your employees to work from home, you may be eligible for up to 80% funding support.

 

The Business Laptop Bundle under Singtel consists of:

  • Laptop (up to 3 laptops per company, capped at S$1,500 per laptop)
  • Online collaboration (capped at S$13,000) for selected Microsoft Office plans
  • Virtual Meeting (capped at S$3,000) for Singtel BizConference Service

 

Application process:

  1. Decide on the quantity of purchase and email Singtel with the below information, Singtel will send you with the Quotation & Application Form:
    1. Company name (have to be exact as ACRA registered):
    2. BRN/UEM (have to be exact as ACRA registered):
    3. Quantity to purchase:
  2. Complete the quotations and application forms and return the signed copies to Singtel and your request will be put on waiting list to secure the laptop(s).
  3. Submit your grant request at Business Grant Portal (BGP), using the signed Quotations from Singtel. You will need to register for a CorpPass account to transact on the portal. (Detailed process on how to apply for the grant can be found here: https://www.businessgrants.gov.sg/how_it_works)
  4. Upon receiving your PSG approval, contact Singtel to arrange for delivery, which will take 4-8 weeks. (Note: If you do not have an account with Singtel, kindly submit your latest ACRA.)

 

For more information, please visit Singtel website: https://www.singtel.com/business/info/psg

You can also fill up the Interest Form here and we will get back to you!

 

 

Other grants available:

COVID-19: How SMEs can Take Advantage of the Enhanced Workfare Training Support Scheme and Enhanced Absentee Payroll Grant

COVID-19: Productivity Solutions Grant for Companies Embracing IT Solutions in 2020
How SMEs Can Benefit From Work Life Grant

 

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UPDATED AS OF 19 Sep 2020
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Per year
Lowest Business Term Loan Rate
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Per year
Lowest Home Loan Rate
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Per year
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1%
Per month
Lowest Commercial Property Rate
1%
Per year

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