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Budget 2021: S$11 billion Covid-19 Resilience Package to fund immediate public health measures, still-ailing sectors

SINGAPORE — A new S$11 billion Covid-19 Resilience Package has been launched to address Singapore’s immediate needs to safeguard public health and to provide targeted support to workers and sectors that are still under stress. At the same time, some of the relief schemes unveiled last year will be allowed to lapse.

Some government support measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme will continue for some sectors, but other schemes to keep the economy afloat will cease.

Some government support measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme will continue for some sectors, but other schemes to keep the economy afloat will cease.

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  • An S$11 billion package will fund Singapore’s vaccination programme and the maintenance of existing public health measures
  • It will also go towards supporting the tourism, aerospace aviation, arts and culture and sports sectors
  • DPM Heng announced that he will allocate another S$5.4 billion to the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package
  • Several government support schemes launched in 2020 will be allowed to expire

 

SINGAPORE — A new S$11 billion Covid-19 Resilience Package has been launched to address Singapore’s immediate needs to safeguard public health and to provide targeted support to workers and sectors that are still under stress. At the same time, some of the relief schemes unveiled last year will be allowed to lapse.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced this new package in his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 16).

He noted that the Singapore economy is projected to grow between 4 per cent and 6 per cent this year, but this will be unevenly distributed. This is because some parts of the economy will continue to be battered by the Covid-19 crisis.  

SAFEGUARDING PUBLIC HEALTH 

To continue efforts in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said that S$4.8 billion of the package will be dedicated towards public health and safe-reopening measures. 

These include expanding the nation-wide vaccination programme and maintaining existing precautionary measures, contact tracing system, testing regime and safe-distancing requirements. 

“Vaccinating our people is key. We started our vaccination programme late last year. As at Feb 14 this year, close to 250,000 people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, of which 55,000 have also received their second dose,” Mr Heng said.

“I strongly urge Singaporeans and residents who are medically eligible to take the vaccine when your turn comes.”

SUPPORT FOR WORKERS AND BUSINESSES

1. Extension of the Job Support Scheme  

The Job Support Scheme — under which companies received subsidies for at least 10 per cent of the wages they paid out for most of 2020 — will be extended, but only for sectors that are still affected by the economic disruption brought about by the global pandemic. 

Companies in the aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors will continue to receive wage support until September this year, a six-month extension from the original March 31 expiry date. 

The Government will subsidise 30 per cent of wages that the companies in these sectors will have to pay their workers between April and June this year. The subsidy will be given out in September. 

From July to September this year, there will be a 10 per cent support for wages, which will be disbursed in December. 

These companies are now receiving 50 per cent in wage subsidies. 

The scheme will also be extended by three months for firms in the retail, food services, built environment and arts and culture sectors. They are now receiving 30 per cent subsidies until March this year. 

For wages to be credited between April and June this year, these firms will receive 10 per cent subsidies, which will be paid out in September. 

This scheme will stop there after for firms in these sectors. 

For all other sectors still receiving help, support will not be extended after March 31 under the scheme. 

Mr Heng said the extension for the selected sectors will cost S$700 million. The Government has committed more than S$25 billion in wage subsidies, which has helped more than 155,000 employers for up to 17 months so far. 

2. SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package

Mr Heng also said that he will allocate another S$5.4 billion to the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. This is on top of the S$3 billion channelled to a whole range of schemes that seek to create jobs and traineeships opportunities for Singaporeans last year. 

Out of the S$5.4 billion, S$5.2 billion will be set aside for the Jobs Growth Incentive, which has been extended by seven months to September 2021. 

The scheme provides companies with up to one year of salary support from the Government from the month that each new Singapore worker was hired since September last year.

Older workers, those with disabilities and ex-offenders will be given 1.5 years of salary support. 

Other programmes for fresh graduates and mid-career workers under the SGUnited series, where the Government provides training allowance, will also be extended for one more year until March 31, 2022. 

Mr Heng said that the next phase of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package aims to create 200,000 jobs, 35,000 traineeships and training opportunities this year. 

Since its launch in May until the end of last year, nearly 76,000 people were placed in jobs, traineeships, attachments and skills training, he added.

SUPPORT FOR HARD-HIT SECTORS

With global travel unlikely to recover as international borders remain close, Mr Heng said that the Government will provide S$870 million to support the aviation sector from this year’s Budget. 

At the end of last month, total passenger movements at Changi Airport were only about 2 per cent of what they were pre-Covid-19.

“I expect the aviation sector to use this lull to sustain and upgrade its capabilities and to prepare for the recovery,” he said. 

In a media statement, Singapore Airlines’ chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said that the Budget measures will help the company’s plans to navigate the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, yet remain nimble and flexible enough to seize opportunities that may come when international borders open.

“The foundations that we build during this crisis will put us in a strong position to overcome the current challenges and cement our leading position in a fast-changing aviation environment,” Mr Goh said.

To help the arts and culture and sports sectors, Mr Heng said that the Government will set aside S$45 million to help support businesses and self-employed individuals in these sectors. 

Last year, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth rolled out a S$55 million Arts and Culture Resilience Package and a S$50 million Sports Resilience Package. 

For the land transport sector, S$133 million will be allocated to the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund, which replaced the Special Relief Fund for taxi and private-hire car drivers from January this year. 

Infographic: Samuel Woo/TODAY

THE END OF SOME RELIEF SCHEMES

With respect to the last two schemes, the Government had announced in December last year a new Covid-19 Recovery Grant to support workers, including self-employed persons, who lost their jobs or experienced significant income loss.

Applications started on Jan 18 and can be made until Dec 31.

Related topics

Budget 2021 Heng Swee Keat economy Covid-19 Jobs Support Scheme

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