- The Straits Times
Singapore’s government is looking to spend almost S$60 billion (US$42 billion) in the 2020 financial year in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. This is up from the S$55 billion announced less than two weeks ago on March 26.
The additional support – called the Solidarity Budget – was revealed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Apr 6) in Parliament.
Heng, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said he had obtained the President Halimah Yacob in-principle support to draw on an extra S$4b from past reserves. The President had previously already given in-principle support for S$17 billion to be drawn from Past Reserves.
With the latest announcement, the total amount spent on Covid-19 support measures will total $59.9 billion, around 12 per cent of GDP. As a result, Singapore’s budget deficit for 2020 will also increase to S$44.3 billion, which is around 8.9 per cent of GDP.
Of the new support measures announced, S$4 billion will be put into supporting businesses and workers, while S$1.1 billion will be used for the Solidarity Payment, The Straits Times reported.
This one-off payout will provide all Singaporeans 21 years old and above with S$600 in cash. This is made up of a new S$300 payment and S$300 from the Care and Support – Cash payout announced earlier. The money will be credited into the bank accounts of adult Singaporeans by April 14, and those who have not provided their bank details will receive it by cheque at a later date.
Singaporeans who qualify for the higher tiers of the Care and Support package will also receive a further S$300 or S$600 in June, The Straits Times reported.
Other payouts being brought forward to June include the S$300 payout for parents with at least one child 20 years old and below, as well as a S$100 PAssion Card top-up for Singaporeans aged 50 and above that was earlier converted into a cash payment.
But the Finance Minister also noted that not every Singaporean will need the extra cash, and urged Singaporeans to donate to charities or share their payouts with others if they can.
According to Heng, some ministers and MPs have already written to him to decline the payouts, opting to divert the payments to those who need them more.
More people qualify for Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme
Two changes to the for Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs) were also announced on Monday.
The first is the inclusion of self-employed individuals who also earn a “small income” from being employed.
The second is the increase of the Current Annual Value threshold from S$13,000 to S$21,000, so that some self-employed individuals who live in private properties will also be eligible.
According to The Straits Times, around 100,000 self-employed individuals are now automatically eligible to receive three payments of S$3,000 under Sirs, starting from May.
75% wage subsidy for local employees
For those who are employed, the Jobs Support Scheme will be given additional support so that all businesses can have 75 per cent of their local employees’ wages subsidised just for the month of April. This is applicable for the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages per employee.
The subsidies previously announced were between 25 per cent and 75 per cent, depending on sector. This will resume for the other two payout tranchments in July and October.
In addition, the Government is also waiving the monthly Foreign Worker Levy due in April.
It is also providing a foreign worker levy rebate of S$750 for each work permit or S Pass holder, based on previous levies paid in 2020. This will be paid out from April 21, The Straits Times reported.
More financing support for businesses
Businesses will also be given more financing support, with the Government increasing its risk share of loans under three loan schemes will be increased from 80 per cent to 90 per cent.
The loans are: the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, the Enterprise Financing Scheme – SME Working Capital Loan, and the Enterprise Financing Scheme – Trade Loan.
This will apply to loans initiated from April 8 until March 31, The Straits Times reported.
- For the first time, ERP rates at almost all gantries, including downtown, will be cut – but LTA says you should still stay home
- Employers who need to cut salaries should apply ‘deeper reductions’ at management and higher-wage levels, National Wages Council’s new guidelines say
- WATCH: Lawrence Wong chokes up while thanking Singapore’s frontline workers battling the coronavirus outbreak