COVID-19: New Support Measures To Help Affected Businesses And Workers Through Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)
The current restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported to be working so far, with the much welcome news that there is likely no need to tighten the rules even further as the number of community cases have stabilised.
However, many businesses and workers have already been hit hard by the current measures. As such, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on 28 May 2021 that more financial assistance from the government will be forthcoming.
These new support measures, costing S$800 million, include more wage subsidies for affected employers to retain workers, one-off payments for individuals, and rental relief.
The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) was first introduced in Budget 2020 to support businesses in Singapore to stay afloat amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It helps to relieve companies’ cash flow by offsetting part of the wages of local employees, capped at the first S$4,600 gross monthly wages for each employee.
The JSS has been extended and modified several times since, and is once again enhanced for the period of Phase 2 (heightened alert).
For sectors that are not required to suspend operations but are significantly affected, wage support will be increased to 30 percent. These are companies in the retail sector, museums, art galleries, historical sites, cinemas, indoor playgrounds, and other family entertainment centres.
Employers who put local employees on mandatory no-pay leave or retrench them will not be eligible for JSS pay-outs for those employees.
By default, employers do not need to apply for the JSS. IRAS will notify eligible employers by post of the tier of support and the amount of JSS pay-out payable to them. However, other businesses that do not fit the categories stated above but who still wish to appeal for enhanced JSS support can do so here.
The enhanced pay-outs will be disbursed in September.
COVID-19 Recovery Grant (Temporary)
A new scheme has been introduced to provide one-off support for lower- to middle-income employees and self-employed people who have been financially affected by the tightened community restrictions.
Meanwhile, those who have had a significant loss of income may receive a one-off pay-out of up to S$500. Income loss of at least 50 percent is needed to qualify.
This scheme will run in parallel to the existing COVID-19 Recovery Grant scheme, which will remain open for those who are retrenched or whose incomes have been affected over at least three consecutive months.
Applications will be open from 3 June to 2 July, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development is expected to release more details shortly.
For qualifying tenants in government-owned commercial premises, the rental relief granted is one month, similar to the one-month rental waiver granted to coffeeshops and hawker centres earlier this month.
To be eligible, one must be a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a non-profit organisation, with an annual revenue of not more than S$100 million.
A list of all qualifying commercial properties can be found in MOF’s press release.
This pay-out will be given from mid-August, based on the latest contractual gross rent from 14 - 29 May 2021.
As with the JSS, most qualifying tenants and owner-occupiers will receive the cash pay-out automatically without needing to make an application. There may be instances, however, where business will have to apply to IRAS and provide supporting documents in order to receive this support.
More details on the scheme and how to apply for it will be provided on the IRAS website by mid-June 2021.
Singapore economy still expected to grow
The current support measures pale in comparison to the ones introduced last year, and the Government has opted not to dip into the nation’s reserves this year. This is because most parts of the economy are still operating, and Singapore’s growth forecast for 2021 is still maintained at 4 to 6 percent.
This suggests that 2021 is still not as disastrous as the year before that for Singapore, at least where the economy is concerned.
The government has also assured that should there be further extensions of the restrictions beyond 13 June, it will consider whether support measures will be similarly extended.
Read also: Uncertain Times Still Ahead for 2021 – SME Loans Available Under Enterprise Singapore
Read also: Enterprise Singapore Re-Introduces Support Measures For F&B And Retail Businesses To Help With Covid-19 Restrictions 2021
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