News: Singapore unveils $5.1bil third support package, known as the Solidarity Budget

Apr 7, 2020

In total, the government is set to commit $59.9 billion, or about 12% of Singapore’s GDP in a battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the Singapore government has unveiled a third round of support measures on 6 April to help save jobs and protect livelihoods during the “circuit breaker” distancing measures that kicks in today (7 April). 

Called the Solidarity Budget, the third stimulus package will cost a further $5.1 billion. 

“These measures will impact our workers and businesses severely,” said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as he spoke in Parliament.

“Additional support will be required to save jobs, preserve capabilities, and provide immediate direct assistance to Singaporeans to help them tide through this exceptional and difficult period.”

 

Third budget a first in Singapore’s history

The Solidarity Budget marks the first time the government has released three Budgets in less than two months, after February’s $6.4 billion Unity Budget and the record-breaking $48 billion Resilience Budget on 26 March, reported CNA.

To fund the third Budget, the government had sought President Halimah Yacob’s permission to draw an additional $4 billion from past reserves. In total, the government is set to commit $59.9 billion, or about 12% of Singapore’s GDP in a battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times,” said Heng, who also serves as Finance Minister.

“The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The Government stands ready to provide further support, should it become necessary.”

 

Singapore’s GDP to take further hits

And as Covid-19 continues to spread across the globe, the city-state’s overall GDP is forecasted to ‘take a further hit’ as the country’s trading partners put up restrictions, curtailing demand for exports.

“The primary aim of this Solidarity Budget is to take further steps to save jobs and protect the livelihoods of our people during this temporary period of heightened measures,” said Heng.

“We will also help businesses preserve their capacity and capabilities, to resume activities when the circuit breaker is lifted.”

 

The Jobs Support Scheme, for instance, will be further enhanced allowing companies to receive 75% wage support for local employees in April, an increase from 25% previously.

The first payout under the scheme will also be brought forward to April, with some companies receiving the first tranche next week.

The monthly foreign worker levy due in April will also be waived to ease the companies’ labour costs from hiring foreign workers.

Employers will also receive a $750 foreign worker levy rebate for every work permit or S pass holder. The rebate can be received as early as 21 April.

 

Increased cash handouts to Singaporeans

Singaporean households will also receive more timely support in the form of increased cash handouts. All Singaporean adults above 21 years of age will enjoy a one-off Solidarity Payment of $600 in cash – which consists of the $300 first announced in February’s Care and Support package plus an additional $300.

Singaporeans who have provided their bank account details to the government shall receive the payments by 14 April, while those who have not, will receive the payments by cheque, which will be issued starting on 30 April. 

Heng noted that the increased cash payouts will cost the government a further $1.1 billion. 

Other cash payouts under the Care and Support Package, which were earlier announced, will also be brought forward to June, instead of August.

 

New Bill to be passed today to help businesses and individuals defer repayment of loans

Tricia Song, Head of Research for Singapore at Colliers International noted that while “Solidarity Budget does not offer additional assistance for private landlords or developers”, she said the new Bill which will be passed today, aims to help businesses and individuals to defer obligations such as rent and loan repayments. 

The new Bill will also ensure that property owners pass on the property tax rebate in full to tenants. 

“We urge landlords to work hand in hand with tenants, and pass on the earlier-announced 30-100% property tax rebates (which could amount to 3-10% of annual rent) to tenants,” said Song.

 

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