Over $16 billion worth of government support has been given out to the Singaporeans and Singaporean companies between March and May under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets to stand against COVID-19 pandemic, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah on Wednesday (13 May).
Ms Rajah in her Facebook post said that it is “unprecedented” to disburse $16 billion in the period of less than three months, however this move is “necessary” to cope with the COVID-19’s impact during these challenging times.
On that note, she said, “This has been possible due to prudent management of public finances and the strength of our reserves which have been judiciously and painstakingly built up over the years for a time such as this.”
The $16 billion government assistance has included the $7 billion under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) which intends to help companies retain and pay local workers amid coronavirus pandemic, says Ms Rajah.
While noting that the remaining $4 billion of JSS will be paid out in May, Ms Rajah acknowledged and appreciated that some companies have returned their JSS payouts.
“Here I would like to acknowledge and thank those companies which did not need the money for donating it to charity or returning it so that it can be used for other good purposes,” she said.
It was earlier reported that Ministry of Finance (MOF) has received 32 companies’ payout worth $35 million in total, from multinational corporations (MNCs), financial institutions, and other local enterprises across different sectors for the month of April.
Those companies were also said to reject the future JSS payouts, according to MOF.
On top of deferred income tax collection for companies and self-employed person to help with cash flow, the Government assistance also included $2.5 billion in the form of the Property Tax rebate, Corporate Income Tax rebate as well as Foreign Worker Levy waiver and rebate, says Ms Rajah.
According to Ms Rajah, the Government also disbursed $2 billion to individuals and households for daily expenses, including the solidarity payment of $600 to all adult Singaporeans, as well as GST Voucher – U-Save and service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebates to eligible households.
Also, $200 million has been given out to around 450,000 people under the Temporary Relief Fund, where those in need of immediate financial help due to COVID-19 have received a one-off cash payment of $500.
“In May we will also pay out $300 million for the first tranche of automatic payment under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS),” said Ms Rajah, adding that the Scheme will benefit over 100,000 self-employed persons.
The COVID-19 Support Grant also provides support of up to $800 per month for three months for those who are unemployed, or on compulsory no-pay leave, or have suffered a significant salary cut for at least three consecutive months.
“These are on top of existing schemes like MOE’s Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) and ComCare, which have also been enhanced during this period, and are expected to benefit around 45,000 students and 40,000 households,” she said.
In her post, she also noted that the first priority of the Government has been to protect people healthwise against COVID-19, and ensure that infected patients, including migrant workers to receive the best possible treatment for them to recover.
The other major priority, she said has been to ensure that individuals, families and businesses are supported through this difficult period amid slowing economy.
Ms Rajah said there are another three weeks to the end of the circuit breaker although the country has “crossing over the mid-way mark”.
She pointed out that the country “will be emerging into a changed world” following the end of circuit breaker measures.
“While some of what was done in the past will continue, the way we live and work will inevitably have to change. We will all have to adjust and adapt. The government will provide the necessary support to enable the transition.”
“Now more than ever is the time for government and people to work in partnership as we take on the challenge of rebuilding the economy and strengthening our society,” she said.