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Singapore

Foreign worker levy rebate for construction, marine shipyard and process sectors extended until June

Foreign worker levy rebate for construction, marine shipyard and process sectors extended until June

An offshore jackup rig under construction is seen at the container port in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The foreign worker levy rebate for work pass holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors has been extended for another three months, at S$250 per month for April and May, and S$200 for June this year. 

It is originally due to expire at the end of this month. 

The move is in light of continued manpower shortages and elevated business costs arising from COVID-19, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a media release on Sunday (Mar 27). 

The rebate was introduced in 2020 to help businesses retain their enterprise capabilities amid challenges caused by the pandemic.

The lower rebate for June reflects the "improving manpower inflow" for the CMP sectors, with manpower costs expected to moderate accordingly, said MOM and MND. 

The ministries added that the authorities would continue to monitor the situation before deciding closer to June whether a further extension is necessary.

"As the (foreign worker levy) rebate is meant to be a temporary support, we encourage firms to press on with longer-term productivity improvements to be more manpower-lean and resilient against future manpower disruptions," they said. 

MOM and MND noted the Government has also supported the built environment sector with other measures, including financial assistance through the S$1.36 billion construction support package, manpower support and legislative relief through the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act (COTMA).

A provision which allows contractors to seek a determination from an assessor to adjust the contract sum to address the increase in foreign manpower salary costs will also be extended.

Set to expire on Mar 31, it will now be extended for an additional three months, till Jun 30.

This will complement the extension of the foreign worker levy rebate and provide additional assurance to firms in the built environment sector, the ministries added, noting the relief is "meant to be time-limited".

"As the sector continues to recover and Singapore shifts towards living with COVID-19, firms will need to partner one another even more closely to ensure business sustainability and longer-term resilience of the (built environment) sector."

In August last year, the Government removed the minimum period of employment requirement of three years for work pass holders in construction and two years for those in the process sector arriving from countries such as China and Bangladesh, so as to qualify for the man-year entitlement waiver. 

This was aimed at supporting the inflow and retention of workers, and was due to expire this month. 

This removal will now be made permanent, in line with the dismantling of the man-year entitlement framework from 2024, said MOM and MND.

All incoming or renewal work pass holders from these countries will no longer need to meet the minimum period of employment requirement to qualify for the waiver, they said. 

"The CMP sectors are key to Singapore’s economy, and the Government will continue to work closely with the sectors through the Industry Transformation Maps to transform businesses and reduce their reliance on manpower," they added. 

Source: CNA/az(gr)
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