Singapore’s COVID-19 support measures rise to nearly S$100 billion
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has announced the Fortitude Budget, a S$33 billion supplementary budget that will focus on keeping workers employed as businesses struggle with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fortitude Budget is the fourth budget introduced by Singapore this year and comes as the country braces for its worst-ever recession, with Singapore’s GDP expected to shrink between 4-7% this year.
As part of the Fortitude Budget, the duration of the Jobs Support Scheme payouts will be extended by one month for all companies until Aug 2020.
For companies that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker, which is scheduled to end on June 1, they will receive 75% wage support until August, or when they are allowed to reopen.
For companies in sectors that are more severely impacted, wage support will be increased from 25% to either 50% or 75%. Foreign worker levies and rebates will also be extended by up to two months, and will include all companies in the construction, marine and offshore, as well as process sectors.
Any increase in Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rate for senior workers will also be deferred from Jan 1, 2021 to Jan 1, 2022, while about $2 billion will be set aside to help SME tenants offset the cost of rent.
Companies were also urged to complete their digital transformation, with the Fortitude Budget allocating more than $500 million to support businesses.
For example, eligible businesses in the F&B and retail sectors can receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions.
Jobs creation will also top the agenda, with 40,000 positions to be created in both the public and private sectors.
15,000 jobs will be created by the public sector to meet short-term needs related to COVID-19 operations, while government agencies will work with businesses to create another 25,000 jobs.
Of these, 21,000 will be from the SGUnited Traineeships programme, and 4,000 will be from a new SGUnited Mid-Career Trainerships scheme.
To encourage companies to employ local workers aged 40 and above who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes, a grant will be provided to cover 40% of each worker’s salary over six months, capped at $12,000 in total.