Singapore reveals S$48 billion package to support workforce

More than one-third of the Resilience Budget will be dedicated to saving jobs and supporting workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
By: | March 30, 2020
Topics: News | Singapore

 

 

Singapore is likely to experience its worst economic contraction since independence in 1965, said the country’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, Heng Swee Keat. To help businesses, workers and households deal with an “unprecedented crisis of a highly complex nature”, Singapore has unveiled a S$48 billion “Resilience Budget” to support businesses and workers feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

More than one-third of the budget will be dedicated to saving jobs and supporting workers, including enhancing the Jobs Support scheme. Co-funding of wages for every local worker will be raised from 8% to 25%, up to a wage cap of $4,600, and will be made eligible to employers until end-2020. The F&B sector, as well as the aviation and tourism industries, which have been identified as most badly-affected by COVID-10, will receive higher support – 50% for food services and 75% for aviation and tourism companies.

Beginning this May to September, a COVID-19 Support Grant will see low- and middle-income workers who lose their jobs as a direct result of COVID-19 receive $800 per month for three months while they upskill or search for new employment.  For first time workers, a SGUnited traineeship programme will help place them at local companies, with Workforce Singapore, a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, co-funding the manpower costs with the companies.

For the self-employed, including a growing gig economy, a $1.2 billion relief fund has been set up, where those eligible can receive $1,000 for nine months. With the extension of the training support scheme, self-employed workers will receive hourly training allowances, which will be raised from $7.50 to $10. In addition, they will also be receiving an enhanced Workfare Special Payment of $3,000 in cash.

These measures, the Singapore government hopes, will help Singaporeans tide over an inevitable economic recession brought forth by the COVID-19 outbreak. GDP data released for Q1 2020 saw Singapore’s economy contracting 2.2% year-on-year, while GDP fell by 10.6% in the January to March period.

Despite the grim outlook, Singapore hopes to create about 10,000 jobs over the next year, with the public sector taking the lead in accelerating recruitment. This includes long-term roles in areas such as social services, early chldhood education and ICT to enhance the provision of essential services.