Singapore Enhances Support Measures To Help Individuals And Businesses
Singapore’s government has prepared S $800 million (US $604 million) worth of enhanced measures for individuals and businesses during the Phase 2 (heightened alert) period. The country has recorded new clusters of COVID infections over recent weeks, causing the government to move Singapore into Phase 2 from May 162021 to June 13, 2021, and tighten measures on social gatherings, dining-in at F&B outlets, as well as work offices.
The S$800 million (US$604 million) has gone towards enhancing wage subsidies of up to 50 percent for selected employers to retain workers in sectors such as licensed restaurants, gyms, and sports facilities, and performing arts institutions. Businesses engaged in retail, museums, or family entertainment centers can receive up to 30 percent wage subsidy support.
In addition to enhancing wage subsidies, the government has provided rental relief to qualifying small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as for hawkers. The government has also introduced a COIVD-19 recovery grant to provide one-off support to lower-to-middle income employees and self-employed persons.
Although the government has stated that these latest support measures will be funded through reallocating development expenditure, Singapore is still expected to draw S$53.7 billion (US$40.6 billion) from its reserves for this year as well as S$24 billion (US$18.1 billion) over the next three years to assist businesses in their transition to a post-pandemic world.
What Support Has Been Enhanced For Businesses And Workers?
Enhanced Wage Subsidy Support
The government has enhanced the Job Support Scheme (JSS) for selected sectors from May 16 to June 13, 2021. JSS was introduced in 2020 to offset local employees’ wages and help protect their jobs.
Under JSS, the government co-funds a portion of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages to local employees. The percentage differs for various sectors.
The JSS has been enhanced to 50 percent support for firms in the food and beverage, sports sectors, and performing arts and arts education, from zero or 10 percent during the April 1 to May 15 period. These businesses were required to suspend their operations under the current Phase 2 transition.
For other sectors that are not required to suspend operations but are severely impacted, wage support has been increased to 30 percent, from the previous 10 percent.
Businesses in the retail sector, museums, cinemas, affected personal care services, historical sites, art galleries, indoor playgrounds, and other family entertainment centers are eligible for 30 percent wage support. Supermarkets, convenience stores, and online retailers will not be eligible for the enhanced support.
A full list of the types of business and the percentage of wage support they are eligible for can be seen here. For other businesses that would like to appeal for enhanced JSS support can do so at https://go.gov.sg/jss.
The enhanced payout will be disbursed in September 2021, based on wages paid from April to June 2021.
Rental Support For Tenants Of Commercial Properties
The government has granted one-month rental relief for SMEs and eligible NPOs with annual revenue not exceeding S$100 million (US$75.5 million) of certain commercial properties. The qualifying commercial properties can be seen here.
For privately-owned commercial properties, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will disburse 0.5x (half month) rental relief cash payout for qualifying tenants, as part of a new scheme, called the Rental Support Scheme. The IRAS will issue further details on their website by mid-June, which can be seen here.
Qualifying government-owned properties will be eligible for one-month rental relief and tenants will be required to pass down the rental relief received to qualifying sub-tenants.
Support For Hawkers
A one-month rental waiver for hawker stalls and coffee shops was announced on May 15, 2021.
In addition, the government will subsidize 100 percent of costs for table-cleaning and centralized dishwashing services for some 6,000 food stallholders in hawker centers managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators.
What Enhanced Support Is Available For Individuals?
The COVID-19 Recovery Grant
The COVID-19 recovery grant (CRG-T) provides one-off cash support for lower-to-middle-income employees and self-employed persons who are financially impacted by the Phase 2 measures.
Individuals who experienced at least one month of non-pay leave (NPL) during the period between May 16, 2021, and June 30, 2021, will be eligible to receive a one-off payout of up to S$700 (US$528). Those experiencing income loss of at least 50 percent during the same period can receive up to S$500 (US$377), also as a one-off payment. Applications will be open from June 3, 2021 to July 2, 2021.
Suspension Of Repayment Of Tuition Fee Loans
The Ministry of Education has extended the suspension of loan repayments and interest charges for students until September 30 of this year. This applies to tuition fee loans, study loans, and overseas student program loans.
Assistance For The Transport Sector
The government has enhanced the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund for taxi and private hire drivers from May 16, 2021, and June 30, 2021, from S$450 (US$339) per month per vehicle to S$750 (US$566) per month per vehicle.