COVID-19: How Are Businesses Coping?

Government Grants and Support

(UPDATED on 24th April 2020)

 

The topic on Covid-19 can go on and on and on, and no matter how optimistic one can be, it is an undeniable fact that Covid-19 has disrupted not just our lifestyles, but our economy as a whole, where many business owners are badly hit. It is not just an issue for the F&B sector, or the Aviation and Tourism sectors, but every business is greatly affected.

 

When the Resilience and Solidarity Budgets were announced, many fellow business owners were either waiting beside the radio or in front of the television to await for good news from the Singapore Government. Business owners of various sectors - construction, retail, wedding photography, bridal studios, event management, tuition centres and many more - are eager to know how they are going to continue their businesses in this crisis.

 

All in all, the Government will pump in almost S$60 billion into Covid-19 measures, which is around 12% of our GDP.

 

 

How does this translate into survival for businesses?

 

Job Support Scheme, wage subsidies, rental waivers, property tax rebates, increased Government risk-share for Enterprise Financing Schemes, and Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS).

 

But businesses are already struggling to pay their employees, or even suppliers, and are wondering how they are even going to pay employee salaries for the next few months, especially now that the “Circuit Breaker” measures are put in place from 7th April 2020 to 4th May 2020.

 

With the Job Support Scheme and wage subsidies, it seems like the main concern here is to help employees retain their jobs and get paid even when there are no businesses and revenues for companies. Employers are recommended to first reduce non-wage costs and tap government support before looking to reduce their employees’ wages or even retrenchment. But how are employers able to reduce non-wage costs when there are still rentals, water and electricity bills, Wi-Fi, and other fixed costs to pay? The monthly cost of using software and machinery equipment does not stop for a month even if there is no operation.

 

Salaried directors and partners are also not eligible to claim S$1,000 monthly under SIRS.

 

For construction companies, they still have to pay their suppliers, foreign workers and subcontractors even when projects are all put on hold. Event management companies also do not have revenue as all events are not allowed during this period. Retail shop owners have to close their shops but they still have to pay for the rental for their stocks in warehouses, and not all retailers are able to bring their businesses online. The list of companies and businesses affected is endless, but yet the direct benefits from the Government support for business owners do not seem to be evident in overcoming the immediate challenges posed by Covid-19.

 

Even for Enterprise-Financing Schemes for Working Capital Loans and Temporary Bridging Loans, even though the Government has increased its risk-share to 90%, it is still up to the bank to approve the loan. Companies that apply are usually the ones in need of cash flow, but if they do not meet the bank's lending criteria, their loan applications will still not be approved. Lastly, it still takes time for loans to be assessed and processed because bankers are human too, and most of them are working from home. For loans inquiries, please contact us at Smart Towkay.

 

All these being said, one of the grants that companies should really take advantage of and apply for is the Work-Life Grant (WLG). Instead of the usual six months to qualify, companies only need to have their workers on Flexi-Work Arrangements (FWAs) for one month. WLG pays out S$2,000 for every local worker on FWAs, up to 35 workers per company. Please be reminded that application has started on 20th April 2020, and should you have any further query, email us at towkay@smart-towkay.com


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UPDATED AS OF 27 Oct 2021
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