The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will consider appeals raised by self-employed and freelancers who do not qualify for the scheme that was introduced as part of the Resilience Budget to help those who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, said Manpower Ministry Josephine Teo in a Facebook post on Sunday (29 March).
Under the scheme, which is called Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), MOM revealed that SIRS will automatically benefit about 88,000 self-employed individuals. The scheme will be open to self-employed who earns a Net Trade Income of not more than S$100,000, live in a property with an annual income of no more than S$13,000, and do not earn as an employee.
In addition, they must also not own two or more properties and must have started being self-employed on or before 25 March.
If they are married, then the individual and the spouse together should not own two or more properties together, and the Assessable Income of the spouse should not be more than S$70,000.
Based on MOM’s press statement released last Friday (27 March), these self-employed people will receive three quarterly cash payouts of S$3,000 each in May, July, and October this year.
In response to this, Mrs Teo said in her post that she received a lot of feedback from Singaporeans about this, and many appreciated that even self-employed person (SEP) is going to benefit from this scheme.
“Since then, I have received much feedback from Singaporeans. Many appreciate that besides Jobs Support which will help 1.9 million local employees stay employed, SEPs will also get support,” she wrote.
She added, “Just this morning, when I visited two different hawker centres, quite a few stall owners knew they were getting 3-month rental waivers and may also qualify for SIRS s well as the enhanced Care and Support Package for households.”
However, she noted that some SEPs who do not automatically qualify for the scheme have asked “to be considered”.
To this, Mrs Teo stated that her Ministry will look into three main types of appeal, and have listed them below.
Those living in private properties with Annual Value (AV) slightly more than $13,000*. [*This already covers all HDB flats and some private apartments.]
Those whose spouses earn more than $70,000 a year but have many people at home to support.
Those who besides self-employment, have a regular part-time work that pay a small salary.
The Manpower Minister said that she hopes to give an update in a week on how SEPs who do not meet the SIRS criteria can appeal. She added that she and her MOM colleagues “will try our best to address the appeals”.
Additionally, she also pointed that if any self-employed individuals who run into financial difficulty due to a loss of income, they can seek help via the Temporary Relief Fund through the Social Service Offices.
If that’s not all, there will also get support from the COVID-19 Support Grant from 1 May, she added.
However, Mr Teo highlighted that some people have warned her to not go “overboard using taxpayers’ monies because the criteria and payouts are already generous.”
The Temporary Relief Fund offers lower-to middle-income Singaporeans and permanent residents who are not included as part of the ComCare assistance immediate financial assistance to help with basic living expenses. On the other hand, the COVID-19 Support Grant will give longer-term financial assistance and job support.
“I seek your patience and kind understanding. Our team is fighting the #COVID19 battle on multiple fronts – from regulating the inflow of work pass holders into Singapore, to meeting employers’ manpower needs and dealing with sudden policy changes by other countries, to preventing mass gatherings of foreign workers and ensuring safe distancing at workplaces,” she said.
She continued, “I’m very grateful to my colleagues for stepping up and taking on an enormous amount of extra but critical work.”