October 2020 Ministerial Statement: 5 Government Scheme Updates That Businesses Should Know

When it was announced that Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat would deliver a Ministerial Statement on 5 October, many thought it may have been to deliver new round of COVID-19 support measures.

This was quickly clarified to not be the case – as he provided the update on his Facebook page. He explained that the main purpose is to provide context for the Supplementary Supply Bill that will allocate resources for the measures announced in August. If you want to know what those measures were, we covered it here.

Read Also: 5 Additional Measures Announced During DPM Heng Swee Keat’s Ministerial Statement To Help Singaporeans Emerge Stronger From The COVID-19 Crisis

During this round of the October Ministerial Statement, DPM Heng reiterated that the government will continue to provide strong support to firms that are growing. Here are the 5 new updates for business schemes that were highlighted.

#1 50% Salary Support For All Persons With Disabilities Under Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI)

In the August Ministerial Statement delivered by DPM Heng, the $1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) programme was introduced. Meant to encourage companies to bring forward their hiring plans and keep existing employees, the JGI offers a generous salary support for new hires.

For new hires under 40 years, businesses will receive a 25% salary support, while for new employees that are 40 and over, businesses will get 50% salary support. This support will last for 12 months, and be applicable to new employees hired between September 2020 and February 2021.

Read Also: Guide To Understanding The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) For Companies  Hiring Local Workers

During the October Ministerial Statement, DPM Heng extended this scheme to include 50% salary support for all persons with disabilities as well.

Source: Singapore Budget

#2 6-Month Extension For Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP) To 30 June 2021

To provide more support for workers, DPM Heng also announced a six-month extension to the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP) that will last until 30 June 2021.

The Enhanced Training Support Package provides enhanced course fee subsidies of 90% for the hardest-hit sectors. They include: aerospace; air transport; arts & culture; food services; point-to-point (taxi and private hire) and private bus companies; retail; and tourism. The Marine and Offshore sector will now be included.

During the extension phase, the absentee payroll support rate will be lowered to 80% from 2021, capped at $7.50 an hour.

Read Also: Absentee Payroll Funding: How You Can Get Reimbursed 90% Off Employee training Costs

Source: Singapore Budget

#3 Extension Of The Temporary Bridging Loan (TBL) Programme And Enterprise Singapore’s Working Capital Loan Scheme Until September 2021

The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and MAS Singapore Dollar Facility for Enterprise Singapore loans, will be extended for six months to September 2021.

Read Also: Temporary Bridging Loan Programme: How It Works And What Are The Criteria For Businesses To Apply For It?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a press release with further details on the payment schemes.

While it urged borrowers who are able to resume repaying their loans to do so, it also stated that it recognised that “businesses will continue to experience cashflow pressures into early 2021”.

SMEs in need of further relief should first consider the Extended Support Scheme – Standardised (ESS-S). SMEs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 sectors (established under the Jobs Support Scheme) may opt to defer 80% of principal payments on their secured loans granted by banks or finance companies, as well as loans granted under the Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Enhanced Working Capital Loan Scheme and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme till 30 June 2021.

SMEs in other sectors may opt to do the same up to 31 March 2021.

Banks and finance companies are also developing an Extended Support Scheme – Customised (ESS-C) to help SMEs restructure their loans across multiple institutions. This complements other restructuring schemes such as the new Simplified Insolvency Programme (SIP) for micro and small companies, being proposed by the Ministry of Law and the  Credit Counselling Singapore’s scheme for sole proprietorships and partnerships.

Source: Singapore Budget

#4 Adjustments Of Support Under The Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) 

To help Singapore enterprises access financing needs, the Enterprise Financing Scheme was formed even before COVID-19 hit – on 29 October 2019. During the COVID-19 downturn, this scheme was enhanced. Enterprise Singapore will share the risk of this loan with participating financial institutions.

Read Also: Singapore Budget 2020: How The Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) Can Help SMEs During This Difficult Period

The Enterprise Financing Scheme offers six types of loans, 1) SME Working Capital Loan; 2) SME Fixed Asset Loan; 3) Business Venture Loan; 4) Trade Loan; 5) Overseas Project Loan; and 6) Mergers & Acquisitions Loan.

During the October Ministerial Statement update, DPM Heng announced that support available under the Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) will be adjusted to help Singapore enterprises access financing in areas such as trade and projects needs. 

Source: Singapore Budget

#5 Extension Or Enhancements Of Market Readiness Assistance (MRA), Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) And PACT Programme

To boost business seeking to internationalise, transform and digitalise, the government is extending the capability-building grants. Namely, these include the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) and PACT Programme.

These extensions will be meant to help firms tap on new sources of growth.

Source: Singapore Budget

Singapore’s Business Roadmap For The Future

We already know the post-COVID-19 world will be very different to the one we left behind at the beginning of the year. This will be another critical juncture in the history of Singapore.

The COVID-19 pandemic will benefit some firms and sectors, and greatly disadvantage other firms and sectors. Taking concrete actions now will help the economy and companies not only survive COVID-19 but provide a springboard for the “next lap of economic growth in the next five to ten years”.

Read Also: COVID-19 Impact: 5 Reasons Many More Companies May Shut In The Coming Months

DPM Heng reiterated that the SkillsFuture movement was launched in 2015, along with the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan. A new RIE plan will be announced in December.

Read Also: SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) A One-Off $10,000 Grant For Companies To Transform Their Business And Upskill Employees

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