Fortitude Budget: Protecting livelihoods and helping businesses

26 May 2020 3 min read

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Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the fourth round of support measures to help businesses and Singaporeans as COVID-19 continues to bring global uncertainties.

The central focus of the $33 billion Fortitude Budget is jobs.

Together with the previous three support packages, the Government’s COVID-19 support measures have totalled to nearly $100 billion. Here are some of the key highlights from the Fortitude Budget.

Enhancements to Job Support Scheme

  • Payouts of Jobs Support Scheme to be extended by one month for all firms
  • For firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker – such as retail outlets, gym and fitness studios, as well as cinemas – they will receive 75 per cent wage support until August or when they are allowed to reopen.
  • For firms in sectors that are more severely impacted, wage support will increase from 25 per cent to either 75 per cent or 50 per cent. 

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

Extending rental relief for government tenants

Hawkers and commercial tenants will get two more months of rental waivers. Other tenants of government agencies, such as industrial, office and agricultural tenants, will get an additional month of waiver.

Expanding rental relief for SMEs

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

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

SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package

The $2 billion jobs and training package will create close to 100,000 opportunities in three areas – 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training.

A hiring incentive will also be provided to companies who hire locals who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes. 

COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG)

To strengthen support for families, DPM Heng said the Government will set aside another $800 million for CSG.

He also shared that over 100,000 self-employed persons will be receiving their first payout of $3,000 this week through the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.

Solidarity Utilities Credit

Households with at least one Singapore Citizen will also receive a one-off $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit. This will cover all property types and will be credited in the July or August utilities bill.

Push for digital transformation

DPM Heng noted how COVID-19 has pushed ahead the use of digital technology for many people and businesses. As part of the plans to support digital literacy for all students, the Ministry of Education will accelerate the timeline for all secondary school students to own a digital learning device.

A bonus of $300 per month over 5 months will also be introduced to encourage more stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops, and industrial canteens to use e-payments and avoid having to handle cash.

Support for social services

Charities will also receive more support amidst the pandemic as the Government will provide a top-up of $100 million to the Enhanced Fund-Raising Programme. The Invictus Fund, which provide additional support to social services agencies will also receive an $18 million top-up. 

Moving forward with fortitude

To cater for urgent and unforeseen expenditure needs which have yet to be provided for under the Supply Act, Mr Heng shared that the Government will aside an additional $13 billion in the Contingencies Funds. This will allow the Government to respond quickly to any unforeseeable developments arising from Covid-19.

As Singapore draws near to the end of the circuit breaker, DPM Heng said the focus will be to reopen the economy and society safely. He noted that the battle against COVID-19 will continue and the road ahead will be uncertain. As such, Singaporeans must have the fortitude to persevere, to adapt and to emerge stronger, just like Singapore’s founding generation.

“Moving forward with fortitude – as we stay united as one people, remain resilient in the face of adversity, and stand in solidarity with one another. We will overcome. We will emerge stronger together as Singapore United, Singapore Together.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat