Singapore introduces third round of support measures
Acknowledging that Singapore’s “circuit breaker” measures will disrupt businesses and severely affect employees, the government has announced the “Solidarity Budget”, which includes cash payouts and additional support for jobs.
With all businesses providing non-essential services to be shuttered from April 7 to 4 May, employers will receive a 75% wage subsidy of gross monthly wages for the first S$4,600 paid in April for each employee. The first Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payout will be brought forward from May to April, and is designed to help keep jobs and allow business operations to resume quickly when the circuit breaker is over.
Heng Swee Keat, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, said, “I expect all firms to make use of this JSS support to continue paying your workers and refrain from putting workers on no-pay leave during this period, or worse, retrenching them.”
For firms that hire foreign workers on work permits and S-passes, the monthly foreign worker levy due in April will be waived. Additionally, from April 21 onwards, employers will also receive a foreign worker levy rebate of S$750 for each work permit or S-pass holder.
Singapore’s Ministry of Law will be introducing a Bill on April 7 to allow businesses and individuals to defer certain contractual obligations, such as paying rents, replaying loans or completing work, for a period. The Bill will also ensure that property owners pass on the property tax rebate in full to tenants.
More self-employed persons will also benefit, with the Self-Employed Person Income Scheme (SIRS) extended to automatically include self-employed persons who also earn a small income from employment work. Current annual value threshold will be raised from S$13,000 to S$21,000 to include those who live in condominiums and other private properties. An estimated 100,000 self-employed persons will automatically be eligible for SIRS and will receive three payments of S$3,000 starting from May.
With the “Solidarity Budget” adding to the “Resilience Budget” and “Unity Budget” introduced earlier, Singapore’s response to COVID-19 will total S$59.9 billion or about 12% of GDP. The overall budget deficit for FY2020 will increase to S$44.3 billion or 8.9% of GDP.