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TL;DW: Here Are Some Key Highlights Of The S$33 Billion Fortitude Budget

DPM Heng Swee Keat recently concluded his Fortitude Budget speech in Parliament today (May 26).

In this fourth Covid-19 support package, Mr Heng said that jobs is a key focus, with support for people to learn and up-skill, and the creation of new jobs.

Mr Heng noted that the Covid-19 situation has deteriorated sharply, both in lives lost and economic costs.

He added that the road ahead is fraught with uncertainties, and that Singapore’s economy depends critically on the state of the global economy.

That said, the Government has set aside $33 billion for this supplementary budget to help Singapore battle against the Covid-19 crisis.

Together with the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, Singapore is dedicating $92.9 billion, which is almost 20 per cent of Singapore’s GDP.

1. All Firms To Get Additional Month Of Jobs Support Scheme Payouts

To provide more relief for firms as they reopen after the circuit breaker, an additional month of Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be given to all firms.

This will be computed based on the wages paid in August 2020, and firms will receive it in their October JSS payout. 

Firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker will continue to get 75 per cent of wage support until August or when they are allowed to reopen, whichever earlier. This includes retail outlets, gym and fitness studios, and cinemas.

The classification of firms in different JSS tiers will also be adjusted, and payouts for those in more severely impacted sectors will be increased.

The enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme will cost $2.9 billion, and the scheme as a whole will give $23.5 billion to firms in 10 months.

2. Extended Foreign Worker Levy Waiver and Rebate

Foreign Worker Levy waiver and rebate will be extended for up to two months for businesses that will not be allowed to resume operations on site immediately after the circuit breaker is lifted.

This will include all businesses in the construction, marine and offshore, and process sectors.

The waiver will be 100 per cent in June and 50 per cent in July, while rebate will be $750 in June and $375 in July.

3. Expanding Rental Relief

Cash grant of about $2 billion will be provided to offset the rental costs of SME tenants, to be disbursed through property owners from end-July.

The Minister for Law will introduce a new Bill next week that will mandate that landlords contribute by granting a rental waiver to SME tenants which have suffered a significant revenue drop in the past few months.

Additionally, two more months of rental waivers will be provided for commercial tenants and hawkers.

Meanwhile, industrial, office and agricultural tenants of government agencies will be provided one more month of rental waiver, for a total of two months of rental waiver.

4. Over $500M Digital Transformation Support For Businesses

More than $500 million will be allocated to support businesses in their digital transformation.

More stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens will receive a bonus of $300 per month over five months to encourage them to adopt e-payments.

Digital Resilience Bonus will also be introduced to help businesses take their next step to digitalise, starting with F&B and retail sectors.

Eligible businesses can receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions. Additional tier of $5,000 is also available for F&B and retail businesses which incorporate advanced solutions.

5. 100,000 Job, Training Opportunities Will Be Created

SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to be launched to create close to 100,000 opportunities in three areas: 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training courses.

Together with jobs to meet short-term needs related to Covid-19 operations, such as healthcare declaration assistants and swabbers, the public sector will create 15,000 jobs.

Agencies will also work with businesses to create 25,000 jobs.

There’s also a hiring incentive for employers who hire local workers who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes:

  • For eligible workers aged 40 and above, incentive will be doubled to cover 40 per cent of salary over six months, capped at $12,000 in total.
  • Together with other support schemes such as the special SkillsFuture Credit top-up of $500 to every Singaporean aged 40 to 60 in 2020, the Government is providing specially enhanced support for jobs and training for this group.
  • For eligible workers under 40, this incentive will cover 20 per cent of monthly salary over six months, capped at $6,000 in total.

6. $100 Utilities Credit For Households

To thank all Singaporeans for doing their part in staying home for Singapore, Mr Heng announces that the Government will provide a one-off $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit to each household with at least one Singapore citizen.

This will cover all property types and will be credited in the July or August utilities bill.

7. Gov’t To Set Aside Another $13B In The Contingencies Funds

To cater for urgent and unforeseen expenditure needs which have yet to be provided for under the Supply Act, the Constitution provides for Parliament to create Contingencies Funds.

Each year, in the annual Budget, the Government sets aside a total of $3 billion as a buffer in the Contingencies Fund and the Development Contingencies Fund, says Mr Heng.

With Covid-19, we are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty, he adds.

The Government will aside an additional $13 billion in the Contingencies Fund. This will allow the Government to respond quickly to any unforeseeable developments arising from Covid-19.

Fortitude Budget Will Be Funded Out Of Past Reserves

This Fortitude Budget will be funded out of past reserves — this is the second draw on past reserves this financial year.

The President has given her in-principle support for a further draw of $31 billion from our past reserves to fund the measures in this Budget.

Altogether, we are looking at drawing up to a total of $52 billion from past reserves this financial year to enable Singaporeans to tide through this crisis and emerge stronger, Mr Heng says.

This is a very significant amount, necessitated by the very exceptional nature of the Covid-19 crisis, he adds.

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