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Support measures during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)

May 2021: Heightened Alert impacting food and beverages industries; image by avery ng kien huei/Shutterstock

Singapore, 28 May 2021 – The government will be enhancing its support measures for businesses and individuals during the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) [P2(HA)] period, having taken into consideration feedback from businesses, union leaders and workers. The package of support measures will comprise enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for affected sectors, rental relief for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and non-profit organisations (NPOs) in commercial properties, the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (Temporary) (CRG-T), and other measures.

Supporting workers and businesses

Enhancements to JSS for Affected Sectors from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021

The JSS provides wage support to employers for the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to local employees. Taking into account feedback from businesses and the public, the government will enhance the JSS to provide support to sectors that have been significantly affected by the tightened measures.

For sectors where the tightened measures require them to suspend many, if not all of their operations, we will enhance JSS support to 50 per cent for the period from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021. This will provide support to affected gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations, and arts education centres. The JSS support will also replace the operating grant for gyms and fitness studios under the SRP.

For sectors that are not required to suspend operations but are significantly affected by the tightened measures in P2(HA), we will enhance JSS support to 30% from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021. This will provide support to the businesses in the retail sector, affected personal care services, museums, art galleries, historical sites, cinemas, indoor playgrounds and other family entertainment centres. Some retailers like supermarkets, convenience stores and online retailers will not be eligible for the enhanced support.

The enhanced pay-out, based on wages paid in April 2021 to June 2021, will be disbursed in September 2021. As JSS pay-outs are intended to offset and protect local employees’ wages, employers who put local employees on mandatory no-pay leave (NPL) or retrench them will not be eligible for JSS pay-outs for those employees.

Rental support for qualifying tenants of commercial properties

To support businesses with rental costs, the government will provide rental relief to SMEs, and eligible NPOs with an annual revenue not exceeding S$100 million, who are tenant occupiers of qualifying commercial properties.

For government-owned commercial properties, the government will grant one month of rental relief for qualifying tenants. This is aligned to the rental waiver for hawker stalls and coffee shops provided during this P2(HA) period. Tenants will be required to pass down the rental relief received to qualifying sub-tenants, if any.

For privately-owned commercial properties, some landlords have given rental waivers or rebates to support their tenants during this P2(HA) period. To provide additional support, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will disburse a 0.5-month rental relief cash pay-out directly to qualifying tenants as part of a new Rental Support Scheme. The pay-out will be disbursed starting from mid-August 2021 and computed based on the latest contractual gross rent within the period 14 May 2021 to 29 May 2021.

Separately, property owners who run an SME business or NPO on their own property will also be eligible for the cash pay-out, computed based on the annual value of the property (or part of) for Year 2021 as of 14 May 2021.

Most qualifying tenants and owner-occupiers will receive the cash pay-out automatically without needing to submit an application. The cash pay-out will not be disbursed automatically to tenants who only rent part of a property, or to tenants who rent a mixed-use property (e.g., a shophouse for both retail and residential use), and/or to licensees. Such businesses should submit an application to IRAS, and provide supporting documents. IRAS will provide more details of the Rental Support Scheme and application process on its website by mid-June 2021.

Further support for hawkers

As announced by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment on 22 May 2021, the government will subsidise 100 per cent of fees for table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services for around 6,000 cooked food stallholders in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators during the no dine-in period.

Providing additional help to individuals

COVID-19 Recovery Grant (Temporary) (CRG-T)

The livelihoods of some workers have also been affected, such as those in F&B, hawkers, retail, arts as well as sports and fitness sectors. The government will introduce the CRG-T scheme to provide one-off support for lower- to middle-income employees and self-employed persons who are financially impacted as a result of the tightened measures.

Individuals who experience at least one month of involuntary NPL or income loss of at least 50 per cent for at least one month, during the period between 16 May 2021 and 30 June 2021 may apply for CRG-T. Eligible individuals placed on involuntary no-pay leave may receive a one-off pay out of up to S$700, and those experiencing significant income loss may receive a one-off pay out of up to S$500. Applications will be open from 3 June 2021 to 2 July 2021. The Ministry of Social and Family Development will release more details shortly.

Support for the transport sector

As announced by the Ministry of Transport on 21 May 2021, the government has enhanced the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund pay-out to taxi and private hire car drivers from 16 May 2021 to 30 June 2021, from $450/month/vehicle to S$750/month/vehicle, in view of the expected fall in ridership under P2(HA). On 24 May 2021, Changi Airport Group also announced that retailers in Changi Airport terminals would have their rental fees fully waived for the period of closure, from 13 May 2021 until 13 June 2021.

No additional draw on Past Reserves

The package of support measures will cost the government S$800 million. The government will fund this through reallocation from development expenditure, as some of these will be capitalised under the recently passed Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (SINGA) Bill. The government does not expect to require an additional draw on Past Reserves at this point. The Minister of Finance will table a Supplementary Supply Bill at the next Parliament sitting in July 2021 to effect the reallocation.

– Construction+ Online

Source: MOF