On 26 March 2020, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered the Resilience Budget for businesses and households in response to the accelerated spread of COVID-19 and is now a global pandemic. This second stimulus package provides a slew of new measures and enhancements to existing schemes aiming at stabilizing Singapore’s economy, protecting jobs and incomes amid the uncertainties caused by COVID-19. The measures announced are expected to result in an overall budget deficit for FY2020 to S$39.2 billion (7.9 per cent of GDP) out of which S$17 billion will be drawn from Government reserves (the only other time the Government tapped into the reserves was in 2009 when the Government drew down S$4.9 billion).

This package focuses on three key areas:

A. SAVE JOBS, SUPPORT WORKERS, AND PROTECT LIVELIHOODS

1. ENHANCE JOB SUPPORT SCHEME (JSS)

  1. Co-funding will be raised to 25% on the first S$4,600/- of monthly salaries, up from 8% on the first S$3,600/- previously for local workers and will be paid out by end May, July and October 2020.
  2. Workers in the Food services sector will get a 50% co-fund.
  3. Aviation will receive 75% co-fund of wages.
  4. Bring forward the disbursement of the Enhanced Wage Credit Scheme from September to end-June 2020.

2. SUPPORT FOR SELF-EMPLOYED (TAXI, PRIVATE CAR DRIVERS, AGENTS, SPORTS COACHES, MEDIA AND ARTS)

  1. Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)
  • Eligible Singaporean will receive S$1,000/- in cash for nine months.
  1. Self-Employed Persons Training Support Scheme
  • Train and upskill, set aside S$48 million (with effect from 1 May 2020 extended to December 2020).
  • Enhanced training allowance rate of S$7.50 per hour to S$10/- per hour for eligible courses from 1 May 2020.
  1. Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WISS)
  • Enhanced payment to S$3,000/- each in cash to Singaporean workers whose gross monthly income is not more than S$2,300/- and 35 years of age or older.

3. SUPPORT FOR JOBSEEKERS (FRESH GRADUATES)

  1. SGUnited Traineeships Programme
  • To provide young people with opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
  • Close to 8,000 traineeships this year across large and small enterprises.
  • MOM will issue more details soon.
  1. SGUnited Jobs Initiative
  • To create 10,000 jobs over the next year.
  • Accelerate hiring plans to meet these roles.
  • Recruit for long term roles.
  • Enhance social services, early childhood and ICT.
  • Offer short term (health declare assistance, transport ambassadors).
  1. Work with trade sectors and chambers
  • To recruit for future.
  1. Workforce Singapore (WSG)
  • WSG will launch SGUniited Jobs Virtual career fair to facilitate employment for jobseekers.

4. SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO ARE RETRENCHED OR HAVE THEIR INCOME REDUCED

  1. ComCare Scheme
    Greater flexibility for applications.
  1. Temporary Relief Fund
    Provide immediate financial assistance to families whose livelihoods were affected by COVID-19.
  1. COVID-19 Support Grand
    Cash grand of S$800/- per month over 3 months, for low-and middle-income Singaporeans who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

5. SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES

  1. Enhance Care and Support Budget
    One-off cash handout for all Singaporeans age 21 and above in 2020 will receive S$300/-, S$600/- or S$900/- depending on household income and property ownership.
  1. Additional help for families with children
    One-off cash handout for each Singaporean parent with at least 1 Singaporean child aged 20 and below in 2020 will triple from S$100/- to S$300/-.
  1. Enhanced workfare special payment
    Cash payout of S$3,000/- for Singaporeans in 2020 for those who received workfare payments for work done in 2019.
  1. Enhanced grocery voucher
  • Triple current voucher in 2020 to S$300/- for Singaporeans aged 21 and above living in 1- or 2-room HDB flats.
  • S$100/- grocery voucher for 2021.
  1. Partner community strengthen the network of support around workers and families
  • Double grant to Self-help groups to S$20 million over 2 years to enhance support for the community.
  • Increase Community Development Councils grant from S$20 million to S$75 million to address local needs.
  • Provides one-off NTUC Care Fund relief of up to S$300/- per union member.
  1. All Singaporeans aged 50 and above in 2020 will receive a S$100 Passion Card Top-up in cash instead to avoid the need to queue at top-up stations.

6. SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO TOOK A LOAN

  • The government will be freezing all government fees and charges for 1 year from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
  • All government loan repayments and interest charge for graduates of Autonomous Universities, Polytechnics & ITEs students (not applicable to permanent residents and international students) will be suspended from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021.
  • All late payment charge on HDB mortgage arrears will be suspended for 3 months.

B. HELP BUSINESS OWNERS OVERCOME IMMEDIATE CHALLENGES

1. DEFERMENT OF INCOME TAX PAYMENTS

Automatic deferment (no application required) of income tax payments for 3 months for:-

  • Companies: deferment of payments due in April to June 2020.
  • Self-employed persons: deferment of payments due in May to July 2020.

2. ENHANCED PROPERTY TAX REBATE

  • 100% rebate for qualifying commercial properties such as hotels, expo/ exhibition centers, medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, childcare centers/ schools, driving schools, workers’ dormitories, service apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants.
  • 60% rebate for integrated resorts such as Marine Bay Sands & Resorts World Sentosa.
  • 30% rebate for other non-residential properties such as industrial / agricultural, offices, business/ science parks, petrol stations and warehouses.

3. ENHANCED RENTAL WAIVERS

  • 3 months rental waiver for stallholders in hawker centers managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators.
  • Up to 2 months rental waiver for commercial and other non-residential tenants in government properties.

4. ENHANCED FOR BADLY-HIT BUSINESS FINANCIAL SCHEMES

  1. Enhanced Enterprise Financial Scheme – Trade loan
  • Maximum EFS-Trade Loan quantum increase from S$5 million to S$10 million.
  • Maximum EFS-SME Working Capital Loan quantum increased from S$0.6 million to S$1 million.
  1. Enhanced Loan Insurance Scheme
  • Subsidy for loan insurance premium raised to 80%.
  • Expanded to cover all sectors and maximum supported loan raised from S$1 million to S$5 million.
  1. Enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme to help with working capital
  • In general, provide help where credit risk is more acute.
  • MAS will announce later.
  1. Temporary Bridging Loan Programme
  • Expended to cover all sectors and maximum supported loan raised from S$1 million to S$5 million.

5. SUPPORT SECTORS THAT ARE AFFECTED

  1. Aviation Sector
  • Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme for airlines, airport ground handlers, and airport operator with 75% wage offset, up to monthly wage cap of S$4,600/-.
  • S$350 million to provide cost relief such as handling, parking fees and rental for airlines and cargo industry.
  1. Tourism Sector
  • Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme for hotels, travel agents, tourist attractions, cruise operators, and MICE venue operators with 75% wage offset, up to monthly wage cap of S$4,600/-.
  • S$90 million for tourism recovery efforts to help the sector rebound strongly when the time is right.
  1. Land Transport Sector
  • Enhanced Point-to-Point Support Package
  • Taxi drivers and pre-hire car drivers (PHC) will continue to get Special Relief Fund payments of S$300/- per vehicle per month until end-September 2020.
  • Private Bus Owners
  • 1-year road tax rebate and 6-month waiver of parking charges at government-owned parking facilities to help defray operating cost.
  • Support will be given to taxi and PHC operators, with details to be announced later.
  1. Arts & Culture Sector
    S$55 million support package to:
  • Provide additional support to major companies and leading arts groups.
  • Enhance the National Arts Councils (NAC)’s Capability Development Scheme for the Arts, to deepen skills and support professional development.
  • Step up digitalization efforts.
  1. Food Services
  • Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme for food and beverages firms, with a total of 50% wage offset, capped at a monthly wage of S$4,600/-.

C. STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESILIENCE TO EMERGE INTACT AND STRONGER

1. SUPPORT FOR CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT

  • SME Go Digital Programme to be enhanced for more digital solutions, such as remote working tools.
  • Productivity Solutions Grants and Enterprise Development Grand maximum support level raised to 80 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, till end-2020.
  • Enhanced training support will be extended to arts and culture and land transport sectors.
  • 90 per cent absentee payroll rates extended to all employers when they send workers for training till end-2020.
  • Early use of SkillsFuture credits top-ups for select courses from 1 April 2020, ahead of the full roll-out in Oct-2020.

2. RESILIENCE BUILDING

  • Enhanced Government matching ratio under SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience (STEER) programme.
  • Introducing Funding Support for specialized cleaning for those in tourism, retail and food business needs as part of the SG Clean campaign.
  • Strengthening Food Security by:-
    • Build up national stockpile of essential health supplies
    • Combination of local production, stockpiling, and diversification of import sources.
    • Increase buffer stocks of essential food commodities.
    • “30 by 30” vision to grow enough food in Singapore to meet 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030.

For more details on the statement released by the Singapore Ministry of Finance (MOF) click here.

The Government will continue to carefully monitor the COVID-19 closely and is prepared to propose a further draw on reserves if necessary. However, Singaporeans must remain strong, co-operate and support among companies, workers, banks, self-employed and the health services in order to ride through these challenges together.

A prudent governance all these years!

Esther Mok
Tax Principal , Paul Wan & Co.
Esther Mok is a Fellow member of The Association of International Accountants, UK and an Approved Accredited Tax Advisor specializing in both Income Tax and GST with Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals (SIATP). She has behind her more than 20 years of tax experience dealing with international and local clients.
em@pwco.com.sg
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Esther Mok
Tax Principal , Paul Wan & Co.
Esther Mok is a Fellow member of The Association of International Accountants, UK and an Approved Accredited Tax Advisor specializing in both Income Tax and GST with Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals (SIATP). She has behind her more than 20 years of tax experience dealing with international and local clients.
em@pwco.com.sg
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