The 4th Singapore Budget 2020 Statement, dubbed the Fortitude Budget was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister & Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on 26 May, 2020 at 3.30pm.
Singapore Fortitude Budget 2020 Liveblog
3:30pm: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has started delivering his Fortitude Budget statement.
3:32pm: Since the earlier Budget 2020 statements, COVID-19 pandemic has worsened, and has imposed huge costs in human life and economic terms globally.
3:34pm: Much of the uncertainty stems from how little we know about COVID-19 and how it will evolve in the coming months. Will there be resurgence? How soon will vaccine be ready? Even experts cannot agree.
3:36pm: DPM Heng said that Singapore’s economy has been deeply affected by global shocks. Today, MTI downgraded GDP estimates to -7 to -4%.
3:37pm: DPM Heng said that as announced by Multi-Ministry Taskforce, Singapore will re-open carefully in 3 phases. We need to be psychologically ready for setbacks as we adapt to a ‘new normal’.
3:38pm: DPM Heng said that this is a test of our strength and fortitude. It will be a test of our unity and solidarity. Businesses, workers and families are all facing different challenges, especially vulnerable groups.
3:39pm: The focus for this $33 billion Fortitude Budget is jobs.
3:40pm: More support will also be given to households for the extended Circuit Breaker period, and more resources given to frontline agencies to better fight COVID-19.
3:41pm: In total, all of the budget measures will amount to more than $100 billion, which is a landmark package and very necessary.
3:42pm: Over 140,000 enterprises employ millions in Singapore. These companies face structural and other difficulties. Economy is undergoing a sea-change.
3:44pm: DPM Heng announced that the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be enhanced in 3 ways after careful discussion.
3:46pm: First, DPM Heng said that the duration of JSS by one month for all firms. Previously, it was meant to cover 9 months of wages.
3:48pm: There will also be higher JSS payouts will be enhanced for firms in sectors that are still affected by Circuit Breaker measures. These companies will receive retroactive higher payments.
3:50pm: DPM Heng urged companies to tap on these schemes to re-skill and prepare their workforce.
3:51pm: Second area, costs. Foreign Worker Levy waivers will be extended for 2 months: 100% in June, and 50% in July.
3:52pm: Planned increase in CPF Contribution Rates for older workers will be postponed, as well as offset package until the increase kicks in.
3:53pm: DPM Heng said that the government will introduce a grant for SME tenants via landlords, which together with existing property tax rebates, should amount to more than 2 months of rent.
3:54pm: While the government does not normally intervene in contracts, but in such extraordinary times, it is important to act to safeguard economic structure for the common good. The Ministry of Law will be announcing some measures.
3:55pm: There are many promising startups that have emerged, and it would be a pity to see them fail. More schemes will be rolled out, including SG United Traineeships, to support.
3:57pm: Some sectors, like tourism and aviation, may take longer to recover. Businesses are urged to make full use of these schemes, and consider how to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world.
3:58pm: Emerging Stronger Taskforce will come out with actionable recommendations, around two key issues: digital transformation and shift in global economic trends.
4:00pm: We have seen a 5-year acceleration in digital adoption in 8 weeks. This is a good thing, but some companies are concerned at being left behind. More support will be given to businesses adopt digital solutions and go online, such as the Digital Resilience Bonus.
4:05pm: Efforts to digitise and adopt technology require innovative solutions and partnership private-public sectors. The government will make efforts to facilitate and encourage this.
4:07pm: Third thrust, is empowering workers. We must be prepared for some job losses. We cannot protect every job, but the government will protect every worker.
4:09pm: DPM Heng assured workers that if you are willing to work or learn, the government will support you. SG United Job and Skills Package, with at least 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships, 30,000 skills programmes.
4:10pm: Public sector will bring forward future hiring plans, as well as fill immediate COVID-19 frontline roles, while private companies are also encouraged to expand recruitment to support growth plans.
4:12pm: Jobseekers will be provided with opportunity to gain valuable experience and skills via traineeships, including technology areas. These will be progressively offered from 1 June 2020. Special attention will be paid to mid-career job switchers.
4:14pm: Jobseekers can upgrade their skills full-time at highly-subsidised rates while being given the opportunity to do internships and get job placement support. Training allowance of $1,200 a month will be given to allow them to focus.
4:16pm: A hiring incentive will be given to encourage companies to hire local workers who underwent eligible training. This covers up to 40% of salaries of new hires over 6 months, subject to a $12,000 cap.
4:18pm: NTUC’s youth wing have began engaging fresh graduates to consider traineeships as an option.
4:20pm: Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will chair a national jobs council to oversee the overall transformation of the economy and workforce.
4:22pm: Temporary Relief Fund has been well-used to provide immediate help while other schemes kick-in. Government continues to be committed to help families.
4:24pm: Over 50,000 applications received by NTUC from self-employed persons received for SIRS. Some of them have begun exploring other career options.
4:26pm: To thank Singaporeans for staying home, a Solidarity Utility Credit of $100 will be given to all property types with a Singaporean in the household, and offset higher bills.
4:27pm: Digital inclusion is important, with no one left behind. Help will be given to specific groups, including students and seniors. MOE will accelerate the timeline for ownership of digital devices.
4:29pm: Seniors Go Digital programme will be launched, including financial support and outreach efforts.
4:30pm: Social service agencies and organisations are playing an important part to support beneficiaries. Help will be given to these groups to digitise and build more capabilities.
4:32pm: Charities are seeing falling donations, and the Tote Board will be enhancing dollar-for-dollar fundraising programmes. Those in Singapore who are able to, are encouraged to be generous.
4:34pm: Overall budget deficit will increase after Fortitude Budget, which is the largest since independence, and require a second draw on Past Reserves.
4:36pm: Past reserves have been instrumental in allowing Singapore to act decisively in the COVID-19 fight.
4:37pm: To further support the re-opening of the economy, a further draw was deemed necessary. The President has given her in-principle support in consultation with the Council of Presidential Advisers.
4:40pm: DPM Heng reminded us that spending these national savings has to be done prudently and to make it count. A contingency fund for COVID-19 will be set aside for health or economic emergencies, which will be used with proper controls and governance.
4:43pm: (DPM Heng makes remarks in Mandarin)
4:49pm: In conclusion, DPM Heng said that Singaporeans have been responding to COVID-19 with resilience and solidarity, and resolutely tackle the challenge together. Local production of masks are being enhanced.
4:51pm: Government agencies and VWOs have also been working tirelessly for containment efforts for foreign workers in dormitories and other areas.
4:52pm: This spirit of Singapore Together is crucial for the time ahead as we cautiously exit the Circuit Breaker.
4:53pm: Companies must support one another. Bigger companies can support their downstream vendors by making advance orders. Landlords can support their tenants.
4:55pm: DPM Heng said that in this trying time, we need to take more care for those who are more deeply affected, such as persons with special needs, those retrenched, and seniors. He also thanked frontline workers for their sacrifices and efforts.
4:56pm: Our generation must move forward with fortitude, remain resilient, and stand in solidarity with one another and we will emerge stronger.
4:56pm: (End of DPM Heng’s Speech)
Watching The 4th Singapore Budget Statement 2020
Those who are interested to catch Minister Heng’s supplemental Singapore Budget 2020 speech with us can do so via the following platforms:
Singapore Budget 2020 Reading List
This year’s series of Budget Statements contain key policy initiatives in Singapore’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 viral outbreak and its subsequent economic fallout.
Here are some readings relating to the Budget process and prior announcements made in the prior Unity, Solidarity and Resilience Budget Statements.
The National Budget Process
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