SGD5.1B more to help S’pore households, firms cope with Covid-19 measures

Lim Yan Liang

SINGAPORE (ANN/SINGAPORE TIMES) – An additional SGD5.1 billion will be set aside to save jobs and support businesses and families as Singapore implements heightened safe-distancing measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced an unprecedented third round of support measures in Parliament on Monday as the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the government to announce a circuit breaker last Friday that requires, among others, all workplace premises to close for a month from yesterday unless they are providing essential services.

Heng said the Government will subsidise 75 per cent of the first SGD4,600 of gross monthly wages for all of the more than 1.9 million local workers in April.

Most firms cannot operate at all or can only do so at a much reduced level in the coming weeks, he said, stressing that they should still retain and pay their workers.

The enhancement to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will help workers keep their jobs, and enable businesses to resume operations quickly when the circuit breaker is lifted, he added.

The last update to the scheme, announced two weeks ago, subsidised 25 per cent of the first SGD4,600 of wages for all local employees for nine months this year, with higher subsidy levels for firms in sectors that are harder hit by the outbreak – 50 per cent for food services, and 75 per cent for aviation and tourism.

Heng said the first payout will be brought forward from May to April, to help businesses meet pressing cash needs. Firms on Giro and PayNow will get the cash next week, and others will get it by cheque from a week later.

“The aim of this strong support is to directly reduce firms’ wage costs, to help them retain their workers,” he said. “I expect firms to make use of this JSS support to continue paying your workers and refrain from putting workers on no-pay leave during this period, or worse, retrenching them.”

The enhancement to the Jobs Support Scheme will help workers keep their jobs, and enable businesses to resume operations quickly when the circuit breaker is lifted. PHOTO: SINGAPORE TIMES