Earlier today on 26 May 2020, Deputy Prime Minister & Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered the Fortitude Budget. It was the fourth budget unveiled this year, and also the second time that past reserves were tapped on to deliver COVID-19 support measures.
The government has set aside $33 billion for this Fortitude Budget. Together with three earlier Budgets, a total of $92.9 billion has been dedicated to support the nation, almost 20% of Singapore’s GDP. Summarised below are the key announcements from the Fortitude Budget to help Singaporeans tide through the post-circuit breaker period.
#1 One-Off $100 Credit For Utilities Bill
All households with at least one Singapore Citizen will receive a one-off $100 utilities credit. DPM Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, announced this move as a bid to thank all Singaporeans for doing their part to stay home during this time. This is on top of the U-Save rebates provided to all eligible HDB households in the Unity Budget.
While Singaporeans have cut down on transport expenses, more is spent on utilities as we all stay home during this circuit breaker period. The $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit covers all property types, and it will be credited in the July or August utilities bill
#2 SGUnited Jobs: 40,000 Job Openings To Be Created
Under the Fortitude Budget, the new SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package is launched. The goal is to scale up job opportunities, expand traineeships, and strengthen training support. An expected number of 40,000 jobs will be created.
A total of 15,000 openings will be in the public sector. The Government will bring forward hiring plans to hire long-term roles. Short-term jobs are also created from temporary COVID-19 operations, such as healthcare declaration assistants and swabbers.
Government agencies will work with the private sector to create 25,000 jobs. The capacity of career conversion programmes will be scaled up to more than 14,000 positions, such as the Adapt and Grow programme which helps individuals in seeking new career paths.
All new job opportunities can be found on MyCareersFuture.
#3 25,000 Traineeships And Mid-Career Traineeships Created
25,000 traineeships will be created to provide jobseekers with relevant industry experience. This includes 21,000 roles from the SGUnited Traineeship programme earlier announced in the Resilience Budget for fresh graduates, up from 8,000 roles earlier. New positions are offered in the R&D sector, from universities, A*STAR research institutes, AI Singapore and local deep-tech startups through SG Innovate. Positions can be found on MyCareersFuture from June 1 onwards.
An additional 4,000 positions will be open via a new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeship programme. This targets unemployed mid-career jobseekers. Further details on this initiative will be launched soon.
#4 SGUnited Skills Programme: 30,000 Skills Training Slots For Job Seekers
30,000 job seekers will be able to attend skills training while on a job hunt. The programme ranges from 6 to 12 months, and participants will get an allowance of $1,200 per month. Those who are already receiving the COVID-19 Support Grant or the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme payout will receive a lower allowance.
The training courses are certifiable and industry-relevant, at a highly subsidised fee. Participants may also tap on their SkillsFuture Credit to offset the cost. More details on the SGUnited Skills Programme will be provided by the Ministry of Education.
#5 Digital Inclusion For Students
As seen during the circuit breaker period, access to digital technology has been valuable in enabling remote work or home-based learning. Moving forward, DPM Heng has announced the need for all secondary students to own a digital learning device.
During the circuit breaker period, MOE has loaned 22,000 computing devices and internet dongles to support those from lower-income families with digital access, and to fully benefit from home-based learning.
This is part of the ministry’s long-term plans to support digital literacy for all students, thus the timeline for students to own a digital learning device will be accelerated. Further details will be released by the MOE when ready.
#6 Seniors Go Digital Movement
The Seniors Go Digital movement is launched to strengthen social resilience and ensure all members of our society have access to digital resources. The aim is to help seniors adopt digital channels, allowing them to stay in contact with their family and friends.
A Digital Ambassadors movement will be set up, tapping on volunteers to help seniors acquire such digital skills. Seniors from lower-income households will also be provided with financial support if needed. More details will be shared by the Minister for Communications and Information and IMDA.
#7 Deferring Increase in CPF Contribution Rates for Senior Workers
Previously, the total CPF contribute rate was slated to increase on 1 Jan 2021. This was announced at the National Day Rally 2019, with an intention to support older workers to continue working and ensure greater financial security in retirement.
As seen in the table below, these are the CPF contribution rates that were supposed to be raised on Jan 1 2021.
|Age||Current||Originally to increase on 1 Jan 2021||By about 2030|
|>55 – 60||26.0%||28.0%||37.0%|
|>60 – 65||16.5%||18.5%||26.0%|
|>65 – 70||12.5%||14.0%||16.5%|
Current and Proposed New CPF Contribution Rates (Source: Singapore Budget)
Under the Fortitude Budget, the increase in CPF contribution rates for senior workers will be postponed to Jan 1 2022, to help businesses manage their costs.
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