Ahead of Budget 2021, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) published a paper taking stock of the relief measures from the five Budgets in 2020 where close to S$100 billion was committed to helping workers, families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zooming in on the measures affecting jobs and businesses, according to the report, the total fiscal support, including the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), is estimated to have helped save or create about 155,000 jobs on average over 2020 and 2021.

About 80% of grants to businesses were for the JSS, which helped to retain local workers. From April to December 2020, a total of S$22.6 billion of JSS was disbursed. The S$27.4 billion in grants disbursed to businesses in 2020 was significantly more than that in 2019.

Other forms of support for firms include financing schemes, with more than 20,000 firms able to obtain access to loans worth more than S$17 billion from March 2020 to December 2020. A majority of these supported businesses were micro and small enterprises.

As part of the Government's efforts to safeguard livelihoods, as of December 2020, the SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package (SGUJS) placed nearly 76,000 jobseekers into job and skills opportunities, with most of these in growth sectors such as Information and Communications, Healthcare and Manufacturing. 

Close to 80% (59,400) were placed into jobs, exceeding the original target of 40,000 jobs while another 9,000 were placed on traineeships and attachments. This comprised close to 5,400 fresh graduates emplaced on SG United Traineeships, and more than 3,600 mid-career individuals placed in company-hosted training and attachments under the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme (SGUP).

To support employers to accelerate their hiring of the local workforce, the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) was implemented in August last year.  The reported noted that preliminary estimates of the scheme take-up were encouraging, with 110,000 local jobseekers hired under the JGI across 26,000 eligible employers in the first two months.

Commenting on the report, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said: "COVID-19 has been an unprecedented crisis affecting everyone. MOF has just released a preliminary analysis on the impact of the Government’s COVID-19 support across last year’s five Budgets.

The minister added that while many schemes are ongoing, our early findings are that the measures have helped to cushion the impact of the recession. Job losses were averted, and more help went to support families in need.

"These measures have also made a significant difference to keep our people safe and preserve our livelihoods. The longer-term effects of the Budget measures can only be observed over a longer period of time. We will continue to stay vigilant, as the path to recovery remains uncertain. We will also adapt our support to ensure that those who need it the most will continue to get help, including workers in the hard-hit sectors," he said.

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