Budget Debate: Speedier support to help businesses and workers cope with coronavirus impact

26 Feb 2020 2 min read

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Members of Parliament urged the Government to expedite support for businesses and workers hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at the debate on the Budget statement, Patrick Tay, MP for West Coast GRC who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower, said that payouts for the Jobs Support Scheme could be brought forward and start before July this year. 

He also shared that many workers, especially freelancers and the self-employed, have asked that the SkillsFuture top-up scheduled for October be rolled out earlier so they can make use of the downtime to train themselves while those aged between 40 and 60 want to use their top-up credits for more courses and targeted career coaching.

Mr Tay, who is the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general, also asked the Government to consider extending calibrated wage support through sector agencies to help these groups cope. Support schemes should also be lengthened should the situation worsen or become prolonged, he said. To eliminate the possibility of employers laying off workers after they enjoy cash grants under the Jobs Support Scheme, Liang Eng Hwa, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, suggested that wage support be disbursed only for workers who remain in employment through July 2020.

Mr Liang and several MPs also urged private sector stakeholders such as landlords to supplement the Government’s support measures, for example by providing rental relief.

Labour movement will support workers to tide over outbreak

Ng Chee Meng said that the fruits of hard-earned tripartism has brought us economic resilience and social stability. (Image: Ng Chee Meng’s Facebook)

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng commended the Budget which reflected a whole-of-Government approach to tackling the current challenge of the virus, and at the same time maintaining the confidence of workers’ in the economy.

The labour movement will provide support to workers to help them tide over this period, with a focus on professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) , as well as the self-employed. During the current lull, union leaders are also helping companies arrange for subsidised training for workers through NTUC LearningHub and e2i, he added.

Mr Ng also said that as the social compact in many societies are breaking down, and the trust in the political leaders are eroding, the trust Singaporeans have in the Government should not be taken for granted.

“In Singapore, we enjoy the fruits of hard-earned tripartism, which has brought us economic resilience and social stability. Underpinned by this year’s strong Budget, all these will ensure that Singaporeans’ lives are uplifted together,” he said.

Job Security Council to help match workers and jobs

Mr Ng also announced that a new Job Security Council will help match retrenched PMEs with job vacancies. This will bring together 4,000 companies across various sectors that employ a total of about 500,000 workers.

This initiative comes amid concerns of workers in the 40s and 50s who are asked to leave as their skills have become redundant.