By end of May, the Self-Employed Person (SEP) Income Relief Scheme will have paid out close to $1 billion of cash support to over 100,000 self-employed individuals, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced in Parliament.
In her update on the various support schemes that have been rolled out amid the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Teo shared that about 1,800 self-employed people have benefited so far from the SEP Training Support Scheme, which is administered by National Trade Union Congress.
Mrs Teo also shared that more than 16,000 immediate job vacancies have been made available since the launch of the SGUnited Jobs initiative in March – exceeding the initial target of 10,000. To help fresh graduates gain experience, more than 4,000 traineeship opportunities are available under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, she added.
On the existing help schemes for employers and firms, she said that more than $7 billion was paid out to employers in April through the Jobs Support Scheme, which will co-fund the wages of more than 1.9 million local employees.
Another $4 billion will be paid out later this month.
Meanwhile, more than 62,000 employers of foreign workers will receive $675 million in total by May as part of levy waivers and rebates to help them keep supporting their workers. They are expected to get another $675 million in total by July.
Situation at larger foreign worker dormitories stable
Separately, Mrs Teo shared that the Covid-19 situation within larger foreign worker dormitories have remained stable for now, while the condition at smaller dorms is still “mixed” and “taking up much bandwidth”.
Mrs Teo added that the authorities are also looking at getting its recovery phase right. She revealed that part of the plan is building community recovery facilities and housing recovered workers in suitable accommodations to minimise the risks of recurrent transmissions, and finding a way to allow recovered and uninfected workers to go back to work safely.
She also said that the Government would look at how to raise housing standards, in particular the older dormitories. For instance, the Government had sought to raise housing standards by enacting regulations, such as the Foreign Employee Dormitory Act (FEDA) in 2015. Officers from the Manpower Ministry also regularly inspect licensed dormitories to ensure compliance, she said.
Mrs Teo added that the taskforce is keenly aware of its mission: “The task force is keenly aware of its mission. They know it is critical to get things right, and to do it with heart. We will fulfil our commitment to the workers and pave the way for work and business to resume safely when conditions allow. Let us give the task force our full support.”