The 2019-Coronavirus, or COVID-19 has impacted the global economy – as well as our local economy – in a big way.
Sectors such as tourism and transport have been directly affected. And since China is an indispensable part of the global economy, other sectors, such as manufacturing, retail and F&B can expect to be impacted too.
Here are six ways that the Government is helping companies and workers stay afloat.
1. A Stabilisation and Support package for workers and enterprises
The Government will support Singapore firms and workers in the coming months, with a $4 billion package.
A Jobs Support Scheme will help enterprises retain local workers, while an enhanced Wage Credit Scheme will support wage increases for Singaporean workers.
To help firms with cash flow, a Corporate Income Tax rebate was announced for 2020, and several tax treatments under the corporate tax system will be enhanced for a year.
There will also be help for enterprises to access working capital more easily with the enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme’s Working Capital Loan component.
To support tenants and lessees of Government managed properties, options for more flexible rental payments will be introduced.
Besides these measures, firms are also encouraged to diversify.
Diversification should apply to
(i) Supply chains; as China is involved in many high-tech manufacturing activities
(ii) The country’s foreign workforce
2. Support for the tourism sector
The Singapore Tourism Board earlier announced that the licence fees for hotels, travel agents and tour guides will be waived as part of measures to help the tourism sector.
The STB had earlier estimated that international visitor arrivals may fall by 20 to 30 per cent this year.
This is due to a decline of travellers coming through Changi Airport, as well as an increase in hotel room cancellations.
A number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 were travellers from Wuhan, and had put up in Singapore hotels.
STB will defray the cleaning and disinfecting cost of these hotels that provided accomodation to the confirmed and suspected cases.
Up to 50 per cent of third-party professional cleaning fees will be covered, with a cap of $20,000 per hotel with confirmed cases, and a cap of $10,000 per hotel with suspected cases.
At Budget 2020, DPM Heng announced property tax rebates for the year 2020, for the accommodation and function room components of licensed hotels and serviced apartments, and prescribed MICE venues. Rebates will also apply to ferry terminals and Integrated Resorts.
A Temporary Bridging Loan Programme will be introduced to provide more cash flow for enterprises in the tourism sector.
3. Support for the aviation sector
Rebates on aircraft landing and parking charges, assistance to ground handling agents, and rental rebates for shops and cargo agents at Changi Airport were announced at Budget 2020.
There will also be a 15 per cent Property Tax Rebate for Changi Airport.
4. Helping taxis and Private Hire Car drivers
A $77-milion package will help taxi and Private Hire Car drivers through this uncertain period.
It’s a co-funded package – with the Government funding $45 million, and taxi and private-hire companies paying for the rest.
All main taxi hirers will receive $20 in their hiring account each day. Active Private Hire Car drivers will also be eligible for this package. This benefits some 40,000 drivers in Singapore.
5. Support for F&B establishments
The National Environment Agency will be providing a full month of rental waiver to stallholders in NEA-managed hawker centres and markets.
Other Government agencies, like HDB, will provide half a month of rental waiver to its commercial tenants.
6. Help for employers affected by Leave of Absence and Stay-Home Notices
Singapore residents and Long-term pass holders returning from Mainland China (outside of Hubei) are issued a Stay-Home Notice of 14 days.
The Government acknowledges that such a requirement can cause inconvenience to Singapore companies.
As such, eligible employers will be able to apply for the Leave of Absence Support Programme.
It gives the employer $100 daily per affected worker for the duration of the LOA. From 18 Feb 2359hr, this will be extended to those affected by the Stay-Home Notice requirement.
Eligible self-employed persons can also apply for the $100 daily.