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Covid-19 support measures: Jobs Support Scheme to be extended by 7 months till March 2021

SINGAPORE — The Government will extend its wage subsidy scheme for Singaporeans till the first quarter of next year, but coverage will be reduced and adjusted based on the projected recovery of different sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the Jobs Support Scheme, which was first announced in February’s Budget and was to end in August, will be extended till March 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the Jobs Support Scheme, which was first announced in February’s Budget and was to end in August, will be extended till March 2021.

Singapore

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  • First announced in February, the JSS which was to end in August will now be given out till March next year 
  • Wage support, however, will be cut from 25-75 per cent to 10-50 per cent
  • Previous support levels cannot be sustained as it “risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses”, said DPM Heng

 

SINGAPORE — The Government will extend its wage subsidy scheme for Singaporeans till the first quarter of next year, but coverage will be reduced and adjusted based on the projected recovery of different sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced this during Monday’s (Aug 17) ministerial statement on how the Government will continue to support workers and protect jobs. 

He said that while Singapore’s Covid-19 situation is now “under control” with the Government working towards resuming more activities, the global economy remains weak. 

“I have been listening to residents and workers share their anxieties on job security and loss of income. Business and union leaders have also spoken about their efforts to retain workers and help them upskill or retrain,” he said. 

In order to adapt to the rapidly changing situation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said the Government implemented measures that are flexible and can be adjusted as the crisis progresses. 

As such, the Jobs Support Scheme, which was first announced in February’s Budget and was to end in August, will be extended till March 2021 to continue supporting jobs. 

The coverage in this extension of the scheme will, however, be reduced, as the country cannot sustain the programme at its current levels, said Mr Heng who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister.

“It draws heavily on our reserves and risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses. Some sectors are also recovering faster than others. I will therefore adjust support based on the projected recovery of the different sectors,” he said.

ADJUSTMENTS TO THE JSS

Currently, JSS provides between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee till August. 

From September to March 2021, the JSS will be adjusted with the Government funding between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of wages. 

Here are how various sectors will be affected: 

  • Firms in the aerospace aviation and tourism sectors, which are the hardest hit and are currently receiving 75 per cent JSS support, will receive 50 per cent in wage support over the next seven months. 

  • Meanwhile, companies in the built environment sector, which are getting 75 per cent JSS support for wages paid from June to August, will get 50 per cent wage support for two more months before it is lowered to 30 per cent till March. This is in line with the phased resumption of construction activities.

  • Firms in the arts and entertainment, food services, land transport, marine and offshore and retail sectors, which are currently getting 50 per cent in wage support, will get 30 per cent support during the extension period.

  • A large majority of the remaining sectors that are currently receiving 25 per cent in wage support will get 10 per cent.  

  • The few sectors that are managing well, such as those in biomedical sciences, financial services, information and communication technology and media, precision engineering, electronics and online retail supermarkets, will receive 10 per cent wage support till the end of the year. They will not be eligible for the scheme from January. 

While some companies are getting only 10 per cent in support, Mr Heng stressed on Monday that the payouts at this level still cover more than half of the employers’ Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions. 

“This ensures that we continue to build up the CPF savings of our workers during the crisis,” he said.

He urged all businesses to “make full use” of this additional support to retain and upskill their workers and transform their operations for the post-Covid-19 world. 

This will enable the firms to “spring back faster” when the recovery comes, he said.

And for firms that are coping well and still receiving JSS payouts, he encouraged them to return or donate the disbursements, pointing out that nearly 600 firms have already done so.

Since its launch, over S$16 billion of JSS payouts have been disbursed to over two million local workers in more than 150,000 firms.

“While the unemployment rate has gone up, we have so far managed to keep it below the peak levels seen during Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the Global Financial Crisis,” he said. 

NEW ROUND OF MEASURES TO COST GOVT S$8B IN TOTAL

On Monday, Mr Heng also announced a S$1 billion programme to subsidise salaries of new local hires for a year in firms that can increase their headcount of local workers over the next six months. 

In addition, an extra S$187 million will be injected into the aviation industry and S$320 million will be set aside for domestic tourism vouchers that Singaporeans may use to support the tourism industry.

This round of measures will cost S$8 billion in total, Mr Heng revealed, but he said there are no plans to draw on past reserves to fund them, beyond what was approved earlier.

They will instead be funded by reallocating monies from other areas such as development expenditures that were delayed due to Covid-19, he said.

TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMY

Mr Heng said that besides the measures announced, the Government will also continue to transform Singapore’s economy. 

While no one knows what the post-Covid-19 world will look like, it will “not be business-as-usual” given the intensification of the competition between the United States and China, the reconfiguration of global supply chains and the acceleration of shifting digitally, he said. 

New areas of growth such as healthcare, sustainability and artificial intelligence are emerging, and new jobs are also being created, added Mr Heng. 

Singapore’s startups, he said, are contributing to economic growth and the country’s efforts against Covid-19. 

To encourage their growth, up to S$150 million will be set aside to enhance the existing Startup SG Founder programme in phases by raising the startup capital grant and continuing to provide mentorship to startups.

The current Startup SG Founder scheme provides grants of up to S$30,000 to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will be providing more details on this later this week, he added.

“We are living in unprecedented times. Let us continue to focus our minds on making the best use of what we have, to build a stronger economy and a more cohesive and can-do spirit,” said Mr Heng.

Related topics

Jobs Support Scheme wages Jobs business Covid-19 Heng Swee Keat

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