The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain it has directly impacted the global economy.
How the global economic situation evolves will be beyond Singapore’s control. But Deputy Heng Swee Keat announced in a ministerial statement on 26 Mar, that additional measures can help us mitigate the extent of the impact, and alleviate how it affects workers and livelihoods.
Here are 5 ways this will be done:
1. Saving jobs
The Jobs Support Scheme and Enhanced Wage Credit scheme was earlier announced to help preserve and enhance jobs.
The Jobs Support Scheme will be extended. The Government will co-fund 25% of local workers’ wages until December 2020.
In heavily impacted industries like air transport, tourism and food services, firms will receive higher co-funding at 50% to 75% of wages.
This will be subject to a monthly wage cap of $4,600 per employee. The Jobs Support Scheme will be extended, with payouts in May, July and October.
A total of $15.1 billion will be allocated to support more than 1.9 million local jobs, so employers are urged to help keep their workers.
2. Helping self-employed persons
A new Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will help provide direct cash assistance to the self-employed.
Eligible self-employed persons will receive $1,000 cash every month for 9 months.
Meanwhile, the Self-Employed Persons Training Support scheme will provide sustained support for them to make use of this period to train and upskill. Up to 90% of course fees will be subsidised, and from 1 May 2020, the training allowance will be $10 per hour.
In addition, there will be an automatic deferment of income tax payment for 3 months.
3. Helping lower-income workers
Incomes of low wage workers will be supplemented throught the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme.
Workfare recipients will receive an enhanced Workfare Special Payment, a one-off cash payment of $3,000.
4. Helping the unemployed
A $145mil package will support those who had lost jobs because of COVID-19.
A COVID-19 Support Grant will provide lower and middle-income workers who lost their jobs with $800 every month for 3 months.
More flexibility will also be given in this time, when considering applications for ComCare, which provides assistance to those in financial hardship.
A Temporary Relief Fund will be set up in April for needy families who need help urgently – this will be available at Social Service Offices and Community Centres.
5. Helping jobseekers
The SGUnited Jobs initiative will create about 10,000 jobs over the next one year. The public sector will take the lead, and the Government will work with the Singapore Business Federation and other Trade Associations and Chambers to identify private sector job opportunities.
An SGUnited Jobs virtual career fair will be launched on MyCareersFuture.sg, with more than 2,200 job vacancies.
For first-time jobseekers, the SGUnited Traineeships programme will give young Singaporeans more opportunities. Workforce Singapore will support a total of 8,000 traineeships this year, across both large and small enterprises.
Staying resilient during this time
From 1 April 2020, Singaporeans will be able to make use of the base $500 SkillsFuture Credit Top-up for courses ahead of the full implementation date in October.
Employers are urged to support workers in training. From 1 May 2020, the 90% absentee payroll rates will be extended to all employers, to provide additional cash flow relief when they send their workers for training,
For all workers, skills upgrading must continue to be a focus during this downtime, to help learn, develop new skills, and stay employable.
For more on Budget 2020, visit www.singaporebudget.gov.sg.
View the Budget Booklet here.