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COVID-19: Additional S$8 Billion Set Aside for 5th Round of Government Support Measures 2020
It has been two months since we entered Phase 2 of post-Circuit Breaker, the number of Covid-19 cases in the community has fallen significantly to an average of one or two cases per day in recent weeks, and the testing at migrant worker dormitories have also been cleared. However, the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on our Singapore economy remains challenging for everyone. The second quarter of 2020 has recorded the worst quarterly gross domestic product performance, with a contraction of 13.2% on the second quarter.
In a ministerial statement delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat today, 17th August 2020, a few key areas continue to be the main focus of the Singapore Government’s support for companies and workers during this Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement today marks the fifth round of support measures this year, with a total of S$8 billion worth of new support measures:
The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended by seven months from September 2020 till March 2021. JSS was first introduced in the first budget in February, and it aims to protect jobs and retain local workers. Over S$16 billion of support funding has been paid out to subsidize wages of more than 2 million local workers across over 150,000 firms.
The new extended JSS will subsidize wages of local workers by 10 - 50% across the various sectors:
- 50% for aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors. There will be 50% wage support for the built environment sector for another two more months before reducing to 30% from November to March 2021;
- 30% for marine & offshore, retail, land transport, food services as well as arts & entertainment sectors;
- All other sectors will receive 10% wage support.
Lastly, the few sectors such as biomedical sciences, financial services and ICT, wage support of 10% will be given for just four more months until December 2020.
Companies should fully utilize the JSS to retain and upskill their workers, so that they can be on track to spring back faster when the recovery comes.
Companies that require additional cash flow relief can also continue to tap on Enhanced Financing Scheme by Enterprise Singapore for the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and Enhanced Working Capital Loan, whereby companies can apply up to S$5 million and S$1 million business loans respectively.
Create new opportunities
There will be a new initiative - Job Growth Initiative (JGI), whereby S$1 billion will be set aside to create new jobs for our workers, especially for mature workers. This will help firms to increase local worker headcount over the next six months.
There will be a co-payment of 25% of salaries of all new local hires for up to one year, subject to a cap, by the Government. Furthermore, for workers aged 40 and above, the co-payment will be increased to 50%. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) this month.
More support for workers
As unemployment rate rises during this pandemic, the Government is committed to continue supporting employees and self-employed persons who are the most vulnerable during this period.
The Covid-19 Support Grant was introduced in May 2020 to help Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) who are unemployed or have suffered significant income loss since March 2020.
From 1st October 2020, the Covid-19 Support Grant will be extended till December 2020 for both existing and new applicants. In order to qualify for this grant, unemployed applicants must demonstrate job search or training efforts. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in early September.
Meanwhile, under the Care and Support Package, all Singaporean employees and self-employed persons who have received Workfare Income Supplement payments for the year 2019 will receive S$3,000 Workfare Special Payment this year.
More lower-wage workers will also be able to receive this payment under the broadened eligibility of the Workfare Special Payment to include those who were not on Workfare last year but are eligible this year.
Aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors
There will also be additional funding support to help the three hardest-hit sectors - aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors. These sectors are also the key drivers of our economy, hence further support is required to “retain core capabilities and position them for an eventual recovery”.
Enhanced aviation support package will receive an additional S$187 million to last till March 2021. This will provide cost relief through rebates such as landing and parking charges, and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.
There will also be a temporary redeployment Programme where 4,000 new jobs will be created. Workers who cannot work right now can be deployed to other areas of jobs where their skills are relevant.
With a huge decline in foreign visitor arrivals due to travel restrictions, the Government will support the tourism sector by encouraging local tourism - for Singaporeans to explore our local heritage and culture, nature, art and architecture. Singaporeans will get S$320 million worth of “SingapoRediscovers Vouchers” as tourism credits to boost domestic tourism. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in September.
Mr Heng also pointed out that for companies that are unable to resume operations, such as nightlife operators, the Government will help them transit to other activities or ease their exit. Further support will also be extended to businesses in the arts and culture, and sports sectors, as these sectors will take longer to resume full activities.
As we adapt and embark on economic transformation, there will be new areas of growth opportunities such as healthcare and artificial intelligence that require new skills and new ways of working.
Innovation and entrepreneurship continue to contribute to Singapore’s economic growth despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, up to S$150 million will be set aside to enhance the Startup SG Founder programme, on top of providing mentorship and guidance. More details will be provided by the MTI later this week.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on our Singapore economy as we enter our worst recession ever since independence. Our Government has already pumped in close to S$100 billion over the past four budgets to fight the economic impact of this unprecedented pandemic. As we continue to work together as a nation to overcome this pandemic, every one of us plays an important role in keeping the coronavirus under control, and to rebuild our nation once again.