For those who don’t already know, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, delivered a ministerial statement on the government’s additional support for businesses, workers, households in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Called the Resilience Budget, this additional injection of financial support will cost the Singapore government an additional $48 billion, which is on top of the Care and Support Package announced in the Budget speech in February. In total, the government will be spending about $55 billion to support its businesses and people during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
To finance these schemes for businesses, workers and households, $17 billion will be used from our reserves.
#1 Government Will Subsidise At Least 25% Of Wages For Local Workers For 9 Months
Under the Enhanced Job Support Scheme, businesses will be receiving a wage subsidy for local workers of at least 25% for nine months. This support will apply to the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages.
For example, a firm which has 6 local employees earning a salary of $4,500 each will receive a wage subsidy of $1,125 per worker, per month, for a period of 9 months. This will be paid out to businesses in May, July and October.
Businesses in the food service sector will receive a higher co-funding of wages of 50%. For those in the aviation & tourism sector, co-funding is at 75%.
#2 (Eligible) Self-Employed Person Will Receive $1,000 Per Month For 9 Months
Under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), the government will be giving $1,000 a month for all eligible self-employed individuals for a period of nine months to help them overcome the challenges of COVID-19. These would include taxi and private-hire car drivers, real estate agents, media and art freelancers and sports coaches.
It would be interesting to note what would be the definition of “self-employed” which would qualify one to receive this payment. Those who are legally registered as a self-employed and file their taxes last year would likely receive the payment. But whether the likes of casual private tutors, who may not have registered as a business, or even generate an income of at least $1,000 a month during regular times, would qualify remains to be seen. We will update this with more information once further clarity is provided.
This is expected to cost the government $1.2 billion.
#3 Workfare Special Payment One-Off Payment Of $3,000
Singaporeans who are under the Workforce Income Supplement (WIS) will receive a one-time cash payout of $3,000. WIS is aimed at Singaporeans who are aged 35 and above and who earn $2,300 or less each month.
#4 SGUnited Traineeships To Support 8,000 Opportunities For First-Time Job Seekers
As observed by many, 2020 is already looking like an absolutely terrible year for graduates from ITE, Polytechnics and Universities. To support first-time job seekers, a new initiative – SGUnited Traineeship – has been set up to support up to 8,000 opportunities for first-time job seekers looking to get work experience across large and small enterprises. Workforce Singapore will co-share some of the cost.
#5 Temporary Relief Fund & COVID-19 Support Grant ($800 Per Month For 3 Months) For Unemployed Workers
Unemployed workers will be able to tap on a Temporary Relief Fund, which will provide immediate financial assistance to families who need it. In addition, lower-and-middle-income Singaporeans who have lost their job because of COVID-19 will also receive a grant of $800 a month of three months to support them financially through this difficult period.
#6 Enhanced Property Tax Rebate For Businesses
There will be a 100% property tax rebate for qualifying commercial properties including hotels, serviced apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants. The Integrated Resorts will receive a 60% property tax rebate while other non-residential properties will get a 30% rebate for their property tax.
The property tax rebates are given to landlords. Minister Heng Swee Keat strongly encourage landlords to pass the full property tax rebates to their tenants to support them during this difficult period.
#7 Hawkers To Enjoy Rental Waivers
Hawkers managed by the National Environment Agency will get three months of rental waiver. Public agencies, including the Housing Board and National Arts Council, will waive rent for eligible tenants for two months.
#8 Enterprise Financing Scheme Is Enhanced Once More
The Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) is designed to support local businesses and is administered by Enterprise Singapore. Businesses that wish to tap on the scheme will need to be legally registered and physically present in Singapore. In addition, at least 30% of the company’s shares must be held directly or indirectly by Singaporeans or Singapore PRs.
The SME Working Capital Loan helps businesses finance daily operational cash flow. For one year, the SME Working Capital Loan will be enhanced, allowing businesses to borrow up to $1,000,000, an increase from the current level of $300,000. The government will also increase its risk-share on these loans to 80%, up from the current 50% to 70% level.
The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme will be made available to businesses across all sectors from April 1. Businesses can take a loan of up to $5 million under the programme, up from the previous $1 million cap. All eligible enterprises can apply for the programme till March 31, 2021.
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