Singapore

Situation calls for 'more aggressive moves' to save jobs: DPM Heng

DPM announces massive increases in wage subsidies and amount for enhanced Jobs Support Scheme

Firms will receive wage subsidies of between 25 and 75 per cent for all local workers as the Government makes "bolder and more aggressive moves" to save jobs and keep locals employed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

This is up from the 8 per cent wage subsidy in the Jobs Support Scheme announced in the Budget statement last month. The help will also last for nine months, instead of three, up to the end of this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that a total of $15.1 billion will now be allocated to the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme, up from the original $1.3 billion package.

This is more than twice the level of support provided during the global financial crisis in 2009, he told Parliament.

"We cannot prevent an economic recession, as the external health and economic situation will evolve beyond our control. But it will help us mitigate the extent of the downturn, and more importantly, help save jobs and protect livelihoods," said DPM Heng.

"With this support from the Government, I urge employers to do your part to hold on to your workers."

The Ministry of Trade and Industry earlier on Thursday cut its 2020 growth forecast to between -4 to -1 per cent, from an earlier estimate of -0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, announced measures to support the immediate priority of saving jobs, supporting workers and protecting livelihoods - measures that account for over one-third of the $48 billion Supplementary Budget.

"The situation now calls for bolder and more aggressive moves to save jobs and keep workers in employment", he said.

The basic cash grant of 25 per cent of wages under the Jobs Support Scheme applies to all Singaporean and Permanent Resident employees, who number more than 1.9 million.

Firms in the food services sector, including hawker stalls, will receive higher support, at 50 per cent of wages.

Firms in the aviation and tourism sectors - which are the worst hit by the Covid-19 outbreak - will receive 75 per cent of wages.

These include airlines, hotels and operators of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions venues.

The support will apply to the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages per local employee, which is the median wage in Singapore.

Gross monthly wages include employee contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Business owners will not receive subsidies for their own wages.

The qualifying salary was raised from the original $3,600 level to provide greater support for middle-income workers.

Employers will receive payouts in three tranches, at the end of May, July and October.

Self-employed people will each receive $9,000 in cash, announced Mr Heng, who said he would set aside $1.2 billion for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which will disburse $1,000 a month for nine months to these people.

An additional $48 million will also be set aside for the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme.

Employment