The escalating COVID-19 situation has led to more drastic measures being taken in Singapore as the total number of confirmed cases climb to 631. As the situation continues to evolve, the Singapore government has announced more budget stimulus to support the economy. This is in addition to the generous S$6.4billion package announced on 18 February 2020.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivers a ministerial statement on 26 March regarding additional COVID-19 support measures by announcing a new budget package. The Resilience Package is an unprecedented budget stimulus package, in combination with the Unity Package the total budget package stands at S$55 billion, 11% of Singapore’s GDP. These measures focus on supporting three key elements:
- Save jobs, support workers, protect livelihoods
- Help enterprises, overcome immediate challenges
- Strengthen economic and social resilience
In President Madam Halimah Yacob’s opening statement she states that the “current crisis is unparalleled in modern history” and that the “downturn is likely to be deeper and last longer than SARS and the 2009 Global Financial crisis, this is going to be different from an ordinary business downturn.”.
Both the Finance Minister and President highlighted the three major industries that are impacted by the COVID-19 situation – Aviation, Travel and Tourism. The government’s first priority is, therefore, to focus on retaining as many workers in their jobs across all sectors.
The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will protect every local worker in employment for 9 months until the end of 2020. The enhanced JSS will see the government stepping up their co-funding ratio of wages from 8% across all sectors in the previous package to 25% for all local workers, 50% for food services staff, and 75% for Aviation and Tourism. These support measures will be rolled out in 3 tranches, May, July, and October.
Vulnerable workers such as self-employed workers can get S$1,000 per month support for 9 months. Training and support schemes for self-employed workers will also be extended till end-2020. Private hire car drivers will also get a special relief fund of S$300 per vehicle per month till end-September 2020.
For low and middle-income Singaporeans who are retrenched during this period will get S$800 per month for three months.
The Care and Support package announced during the Unity budget will be tripled. Details of the updated package can be seen here:
*Singaporean parents with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below. Each eligible parent will receive S$300.
Aside from battling the containment of the COVID-19 virus, the Singapore government also has to prepare for a long-drawn economic downturn due to major disruptions in the global demand and supply. The size and speed of releasing the Resilience Package reflect the urgency of financial protection for all Singaporeans and businesses. This package will not stop a downturn from happening but it will help to lessen the impact that a recession will bring.
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