While delivering Budget 2021 in Parliament on Tuesday (16 February), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), which helps employers retain employees by subsiding wages, will be extended for industries that continue to suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the fourth extension of the JSS, and will cost the Government another S$700 million. The scheme was first introduced in Budget 2020 last year, and has helped subsidised between 25 and 75 percent of salaries for firms.
“So far, we have committed over S$25 billion to the JSS, and supported over 155,000 employers for up to 17 months. The current tranche will continue to cover wages up to March 2021 for most sectors,” said Mr Heng, who is also the country’s Finance Minister.
However, he expressed that even as Singapore’s economy is recovering, some sectors continue to be affected badly, which is why the Government will “tailor support to maintain resilience and support growing areas”.
The JSS extension is part of an S$11 billion COVID-19 Resilience Package that targets the “immediate tasks” of continuing the battle against the pandemic, said Mr Heng.
He explained that the Resilience Package will work on three prongs – continuing to support workers and businesses, safeguarding public health and providing targeted help to industries that are still under stress.
He also went on to note that the range of measures announced in last year’s Budget helped prevent “deep economic scarring and permanent impairing” of Singapore’s economy.
Detailing out on the extension, Mr Heng pointed out that companies in Tier 1 sectors – aviation, aerospace and tourism – will receive a six-month extension for the JSS. These firms will be given 30 percent support for salaries paid from April to June 2021, and 10 percent for wages paid from July to September this year.
As for firms in Tier 2 – namely retail, food services, arts and culture, and marine and offshore – they will get wage support of 10 percent for three more months, which covers wages paid up to June.
However, Mr Heng noted that there will be no changes for companies in Tier 3A sectors are they are generally recovering. As previously announced, the JSS will cover 10 percent of salaries up to March for firms in these sectors.
A few schemes within the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will also be extended, including the Jobs Growth Incentive and specific training and attachment opportunities, Mr Heng said.
Moving on, the Finance Minister also said that while nightlife establishments are not allowed to re-open yet, but they can apply for grants pivot to other activities or wind down.
If that’s not all, the COVID-19 Resilience Package will also fund the COVID-19 Recovery Grant, which supports workers who lost their jobs or suffered “significant income loss”.
Mr Heng added that applications opened on 18 January this year, and over 5,000 applications have been approved.
Separately, Mr Heng also noted that about S$4.8 billion of the package will be allocated to safeguard public health and ensure the safe reopening of Singapore’s economy.
“Vaccinating our people is key,” said Mr Heng, adding that as of 14 February this year, close to 250,000 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, about 55,000 have received their second dose.
“At the same time, we must continue to contain the spread of the virus, by keeping up our precautionary measures and our multi-layered defence system of contact tracing, testing, and safe distancing,” he said.
The COVID-19 Resilience Package will pay close attention to the worst-hit sectors, providing bridging support for aviation companies, taxi and private hire car drivers, arts & culture, and the sports sector. #SGBudget2021 pic.twitter.com/uaggxz64qv
— MOFsg (@MOFsg) February 16, 2021