Singapore

Over 8,600 notifications for contractual relief submitted

Majority related to hire-purchase agreements for equipment or vehicles and rental of property

Businesses and individuals have submitted more than 8,600 notifications for temporary relief from their contractual obligations as at last Tuesday under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

The majority of the notifications, or 66 per cent, were related to hire-purchase agreements for commercial equipment or vehicles, and rental of commercial and industrial property, said Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong yesterday.

Meanwhile, about 117,000 notices of cash grants totalling $947 million have been issued to property owners with tenants who were eligible for rental relief as at last Tuesday.

Mr Tong, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, was giving an update in Parliament on the Ministry of Law's (MinLaw) support measures to help Singaporeans and businesses cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, which kicked in last April, businesses and individuals are able to get legal reprieve from their contracts for six months.

This includes contracts for rentals for industrial and commercial property, construction and supply contracts, as well as certain secured loan facilities granted by a bank or finance company to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Certain hire-purchase agreements and contracts for events such as weddings and conferences, as well as in tourism, such as cruise and hotel bookings, are also covered under the law.

The temporary relief period was extended in October by one to five months depending on the type of contract. In January, the Re-Align Framework kicked in to help small and micro businesses renegotiate certain contracts. They had until last Friday to submit a notice of negotiation under the framework.

MinLaw also introduced the Simplified Insolvency Programme in January to provide financially distressed micro and small businesses with a cheaper and faster way to restructure their debts or wind up and pivot to a different industry.

Addressing Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who asked about provisions for small landlords under the rental relief framework, Mr Tong said the framework allows harder-hit landlords to halve their share of the rental waivers for tenants.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore had also worked with banks and finance companies to allow affected individuals and small landlords to defer their property loan repayments last year, he added. To Mr Murali Pillai's (Bukit Batok) question on whether MinLaw will introduce more measures, Mr Tong said it will monitor the situation and make adjustments to existing measures if necessary.

BUSINESS & FINANCE