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What you need to know about the S$1.5 billion support package to help households, businesses amid rising prices

 What you need to know about the S$1.5 billion support package to help households, businesses amid rising prices

Office workers are seen at Raffles Place in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The Government announced a S$1.5 billion support package on Tuesday (Jun 21) to counter rising inflation, targeted at providing "immediate relief" for lower-income and more vulnerable groups. 

In April, Singapore’s core inflation accelerated to 3.3 per cent year-on-year, the highest since January 2012. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Tuesday the details of the new package, which builds on the support measures in Budget 2022. There is no further draw on past reserves.

“The Ukraine war has put tremendous stressors on global supply chains, and protectionist measures by countries have compounded supply chain disruptions,” he added.

“Global energy and food prices have risen sharply and we must expect global inflation to broaden to other areas and even to pick up further before it stabilises and gets better.”

Here is what you need to know about the new support package: 

Cash payouts for eligible Singaporeans, utilities bill support for all households

GSTV-Cash recipients will receive up to S$300 cash in August, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Tuesday, adding that about 1.5 million Singaporeans are eligible.

Eligible recipients of GSTV-Cash must be aged 21 and above, and with an annual income of not more than S$34,000. The annual value of their home must not be more than S$21,000 and they must not own more than one property.

This payment is on top of the regular GSTV-Cash amounts they will receive this year. 

Taken together, GSTV-Cash recipients will receive up to S$700 in August this year, said Mr Wong. 

All Singaporean households will also receive S$100 utilities credit by September to help offset their bills, he added.

The one-off credit will be provided to all Singaporean households, including those living in private properties. 

ComCare enhanced to help families

The support measures in the S$1.5 billion package are tilted towards helping lower-income and vulnerable groups because they are the groups that are “disproportionately impacted by the effects of inflation", said Mr Wong on Tuesday. 

The ComCare scheme will be enhanced to provide additional assistance to households on short-to-medium-term assistance and long-term assistance, he announced. 

A one-person household on ComCare long-term assistance will receive higher cash assistance of S$640 per month, an increase of S$40 per month, said MOF.

Those who apply for ComCare short-to-medium-term assistance or apply to renew their assistance can also expect to receive higher cash assistance and support for their utility expenses, the Finance Ministry added.

The amount of assistance will vary depending on the household’s composition, needs and income.

In a separate press release, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said the revision in assistance rates complements the temporary measures introduced in April to help beneficiaries cope with increases in the cost of living. 

The measures will remain in place until the end of September, and will enable new ComCare short-to-medium-term assistance beneficiaries to receive at least six months of assistance. 

The Singapore Allowance and monthly pension ceiling for pensioners who draw lower pensions will be enhanced by S$30 each, to S$350 and S$1,280 respectively, said MOF.

Support for taxi main hirers and private hire care drivers 

Eligible taxi main hirers and private hire car drivers will get a one-off relief of S$150 in August, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Chee Hong Tat announced on Tuesday. 

As part of support measures for self-employed people, combi bus drivers, limousine drivers and delivery drivers and motorcycle riders will get up a one-off cash relief of up to S$300.

Drivers of combi buses and limousines must be members of the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, while delivery drivers and motorcycle riders must be part of the National Delivery Champions Association to qualify for the relief.

They will have to apply under the NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit Relief Scheme.

Pump prices have gone up 30 per cent to 40 per cent in the past six months, noted Mr Chee at the press conference. 

The Government relief comes on top of other help drivers may be getting, he added. For example, taxi and private hire car operators have introduced temporary fare adjustments to supplement the incomes of drivers.

Many operators have offered further support, such as rental rebates and discounted fuel, said Mr Chee.

Government to increase co-funding share of wage increases for lower-wage workers

The Government will increase its co-funding share of wage increases for local lower-wage workers under the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme, to help businesses cope with rising costs, said MOF. 

The Government’s co-funding share of eligible wage increases in 2022 will go up from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for resident employees with gross monthly wages up to S$2,500. 

For wages above S$2,500 and up to S$3,000, the co-funding will be raised from 30 per cent to 45 per cent.

Other existing parameters for the scheme remain unchanged, said MOF.

The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) will also be extended for another six months until March 2023. The JGI provides support for employers to hire mature job seekers who have not been working for at least six months, as well as people with disabilities and ex-offenders.

The Government will also roll out a new Energy Efficiency Grant to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises in the food services, food manufacturing and retail sectors with up to 70 per cent support to adopt energy-efficient equipment in pre-approved categories, said MOF.

These are sectors that have been significantly affected by higher electricity prices, the Finance Ministry added.

The grant will support these firms to improve their energy efficiency and alleviate increasing business costs due to soaring energy prices. Capped at $30,000 per company, it will cover equipment such as LED lighting, air-conditioners, cooking hobs, refrigerators, water heaters and dryers.

Coping with Malaysia’s chicken export ban

Singapore's 11 chicken slaughterhouses will be given a one-month waiver of the foreign worker levy to cushion the impact of Malaysia's export ban.

Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Koh Poh Koon said most of the chicken slaughterhouses had to put their employees on leave, given that the main activity there is to slaughter live chickens.

Source: CNA/hw(mi)


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