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Singapore

S$1.1 billion support package for workers, businesses hit by Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions

The package includes more wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), rental relief and a new relief fund for market and hawker centre stallholders. 

S$1.1 billion support package for workers, businesses hit by Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions

People queue up at Amoy Street Food Centre to buy food during lunch hour on Jul 22, 2021, on the first day of the return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert). (Photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: The Government will provide a S$1.1 billion support package to help workers and businesses affected by Singapore’s return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions.

The package includes wage subsidies under an enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for affected sectors, rental relief for commercial properties, as well as a new relief fund for market and hawker centre stallholders. 

The food delivery booster package and the e-commerce booster package will be extended, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Thursday (Jul 23).

For taxi and private-hire car drivers, the COVID-19 driver relief fund will be enhanced.

READ: Additional S$30 million in support for taxi, private-hire drivers: LTA

To help workers affected by the tighter measures, the COVID-19 Recovery Grant – Temporary will be extended until Aug 31.

“The support package is expected to cost S$1.1 billion and will be funded by reallocation arising from one-off underutilisation due to COVID-19, and fiscal resources set aside earlier in the event of extension of support measures,” MOF said in a media release.

ENHANCED JSS

JSS support will be increased to 60 per cent for sectors that are required to “suspend many, if not all, of their activities” during the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period from Jul 22 to Aug 18.

“These include food and beverage businesses, gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations and arts education centres,” MOF said.

These businesses were previously eligible for 50 per cent JSS support from May 16 to Jul 11 and 10 per cent support from Jul 12 to Jul 21.

READ: Return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert): Dining-in to be suspended, group sizes back down to 2

READ: Return to tighter measures needed as COVID-19 infections likely to 'rise sharply' at current transmission rates, says MOH

Sectors that are “significantly affected” by the restrictions will see their JSS support enhanced to 40 per cent.

“These include the retail sector, affected personal care services, tourist attractions, licensed hotels, cruise and regional ferry operators, MICE organisers, travel agents, museums, art galleries, cinema operators and other family entertainment centres,” MOF said.

These businesses had been eligible for 30 per cent JSS support from May 16 to Jul 11 and 10 per cent support from Jul 12 to Jul 21.

JSS support for all these affected sectors will taper off to 10 per cent from Aug 19 to 31.

P2(HA) support measures infographic part 1

RENTAL RELIEF FOR COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES

Tenants at government-owned commercial properties will receive rental relief for the full Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period, while tenants of privately owned commercial properties will receive relief for half the period.

“The Government will provide an additional four-week rental waiver for qualifying tenants on government-owned commercial properties, and an additional two-week rental relief cash payout for qualifying tenant-occupiers and owner-occupiers of privately owned commercial properties under the rental support scheme,” MOF said.

READ: Businesses call on landlords to 'share the pain' as COVID-19 curbs tightened again

READ: Only 'low-intensity' exercises with masks on allowed at indoor facilities during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)

The ministry added that this system of rental relief ensures “fair burden-sharing”. 

“While we encouraged landlords of commercial properties to provide rental support to affected businesses during the last Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period, many tenants have provided feedback that not all landlords were forthcoming,” it said.

“To ensure fair burden-sharing, the Government is looking to require sharing of rental obligations between the Government, landlords and qualifying tenants.

“We recognise that there will be landlords who may face genuine hardship, and will take these landlords’ circumstances into consideration.”

BOOSTER PACKAGES, CREDIT SUPPORT

The food delivery booster package, which supports the F&B sector by defraying part of delivery costs via food delivery platforms third-party platforms, will be reintroduced for transactions made between Jul 22 and Aug 18.

“For the use of food delivery platforms, ESG (Enterprise Singapore) will fund 5 percentage points of the commission cost charged,” MOF said.

“ESG will fund 20 per cent of the delivery costs for food delivery orders through third-party logistics partners.”

READ: 'I can't stop now': Business owners hang on despite running up losses amid tighter COVID-19 restrictions

READ: 58 per cent of hawkers whose tenancies were up for renewal from April to June had rentals revised down

The e-commerce booster package, reintroduced on May 16, will also be available until Nov 16. This helps local retailers get on board local e-commerce platforms.

“Retailers will receive a one-time 80 per cent support on qualifying costs for the service fees charged by the platforms, capped at S$8,000,” MOF said.

“These platforms include Lazada, Mummy’s Market, Qoo10, Shopee and Zalora.”

P2(HA) support measures infographic - part 2

Banks and finance companies will also continue to provide cashflow assistance to borrowers impacted by the tightened restrictions.

“This is facilitated by the ESG, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and industry support measures that had been recently extended,” MOF said.

“Lenders will further offer relief and restructuring options for borrowers based on their specific circumstances.”

SUPPORT FOR HAWKERS, MARKET STALLHOLDERS 

The Government will introduce a new fund to help hawkers and market stallholders who will receive a one-off cash assistance of S$500 per stallholder. 

This applies to stallholders of cooked food and market stalls in centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators.

The Government previously announced on Jul 16 that stallholders in hawker centres and markets managed by the NEA or NEA-appointed operators would receive one month of subsidies for table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services, as well as one month of rental waivers.

To support drivers of taxis and private-hire cars, the Government will enhance the COVID-19 driver relief fund from Jul 22 to the end of September.

The fund currently provides eligible drivers with S$10 per vehicle per day for 60 days from July, and S$5 per vehicle per day for the next 30 days.

As part of the support package, the COVID-19 Recovery Grant – Temporary will be made available until Aug 31.

The grant provides a payout of up to S$700 for workers placed on involuntary no-pay leave and up to S$500 for workers who have lost a minimum of 50 per cent of their incomes for at least one month as a result of tightened COVID-19 restrictions since May 16.

Existing recipients of the grant who continue to require assistance can apply for a second payout under the scheme, MOF said.

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Source: CNA/kg(gs)

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