In a third round of COVID-19 support measures for Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday announced the Solidarity Budget, aimed to help people get through the heightened safe distancing measures from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020.

Under the new Solidarity Budget, an additional S$5.1bn will be mobilised. This is over and above the existing S$55bn set aside for COVID-19-related measures under the Unity and Resilience Budgets.

The Solidarity Budget will focus on three key areas:

#1 Enhance protection for jobs and livelihoods

The Government’s key focus of this area would be to save jobs and support wages, as well as to help self-employed persons (SEPs)

Hence, the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be further enhanced for the month of April.

  • For April 2020, the Government will help employers pay 75% on the first S$4,600 of monthly salaries for every local employee.
  • From May 2020, wage support levels will return to original levels in the Resilience Budget – that is, 75% wage support for the aviation and tourism sectors, 50% for the food services sector, and 25% for all other sectors.

Additionally, the SEP Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will see more SEPs qualifying for aid.

The SIRS will now automatically include SEPs who also earn a small income from employment work. It will enhance the qualifying criterion annual value of property to S$21,000, up from S$13,000.

Eligible SEPs will receive three quarterly cash payouts of S$3,000 each in May, July, and October 2020.

#2 Strengthen support for firms and workers

Under this area, the Government will focus on cash flow and credit support for employers.

Key measures include:

  • Waiving the monthly Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) due in April 2020.
  • FWL rebate of S$750 in April 2020 from levies paid this year, for each Work Permit or S Pass holder.
  • 1-month rental waiver for office, commercial, and agricultural tenants of Government agencies.
  • Loans under the EFS- Trade Loan, EFS-SME Working Capital Loan, and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, initiated from 8 April 2020 till 31 March 2021, will see the Government’s risk share raised from 80% to 90%.
  • Laws will be put in place to ensure property owners pass on Property Tax rebate to tenants.

#3 Provide more help to Singaporeans

To provide timely support and help Singaporeans tide over this period, the Government is distributing an additional cash payout of S$300 for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020.

The Government will also advance S$300 from the enhanced Care & Support package to be paid in April 2020.

  • Singaporeans earning not more than S$28,000 for the Year of Assessment (YA) 2019 will receive a total cash payment of S$1,200 (S$600 in April 2020, and S$600 in June 2020).
  • Singaporeans earning above S$28,000 to S$100,000 for YA2019, will receive a total of S$900 (S$600 in April 2020 and S$300 in June 2020).
  • Singaporeans earning more than S$100,000 for YA2019 will receive a total of S$600 which will be paid out in whole in April 2020.

For the majority of Singaporeans who have provided their bank account details to the Government, the Solidarity Payment will be credited directly into their bank accounts by 14 April 2020. The rest will receive the payment by cheque, to be issued in stages later, starting from 30 April 2020.

The other payments from the Resilience Budget will remain and will be paid out in June 2020:

  • S$300 cash payout for Singaporean parents with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below in 2020.
  • S$100 PAssion Card cash top-up for all Singaporeans aged 50 and above in 2020.
  • Total of up to S$1,000 in cash for eligible Singaporeans in June 2020.

Photo / 123RF