, Singapore

Government launches $48b resilience budget against COVID-19 pandemic

Qualified commercial properties may receive a 100% tax rebate.

The government has unveiled its $48b resilience budget to help businesses, workers, and residents weather the negative impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

All government fees and charges have been frozen for a period of one year starting 1 April up to 31 March 2021. Loan repayments and interest charges for government loan schemes, including student debt, has also been suspended for a period of one year.

Qualified commercial properties may also receive a 100% tax rebate. These include hotels, serviced apartments, tourist attractions, shops, and restaurants—the hardest hit sectors of the pandemic.

Hawkers will also receive three months of rental waivers, whilst commercial and non-residential property tenants in government properties are eligible for rental waivers of up to two months.

The government has set aside $350m for the aviation sector. Meanwhile, airlines, airline support, handlers and airport operators are eligible for a 75% wage offset with a monthly wage cap of up to $4,600.

Officials have also set aside $90m to aid in the tourism sector’s recovery. Hotels, travel agents, tourist attractions, cruise operators, and MICE venue operators are eligible for a 75% wage offset, up to a monthly wage cap of $4,600.

The land transportation sector will also continue to receive $300 per month, extended until September.Private bus owners are eligible for a one-year loan tax rebate and a 6-month waiver of parking fees at government-owned parking facilities.

The government has also set aside $55m for the arts & culture sector.

The temporary bridging loan scheme has also been expanded to cover all sectors, with the maximum supported loan raised from $1m to $5m.

Employee welfare
For employers, the government will shoulder 25% of the first $4,600 of monthly salaries under the enhanced jobs support scheme, for a period of nine months or until the end of the year. This is expected to help support 1.9 million local employees.

The government has also set aside an additional $500m for employees’ wage increases, on top of the earlier $600m.

Middle and low income Singaporeans who lost their jobs during these trying times will also receive a support grant of $800 for the next three months. Singaporeans who received workfare payments in 2019 will also be eligible for a $3,000 cash payment.

Self-employed persons (SEPs) will also receive $1,000 monthly for nine months under the SEP income relief scheme. The SEP Training Support Scheme has also been extended end-2020 so that SEPs may train and upskill themselves during this downtime period, with the government setting aside $48m for this.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), unions, and the government have established a joint fund of $25m to help workers and SEPs.

The government also expanded on its help for households. All Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020 will also be eligible for an enhanced cash payout of $300, $600, and $900, depending on their income level. This was thrice the original announced cash payout of $100-$300 during the 2020 Budget Speech last month.

Each Singaporean parent with at least one child aged 20 will also get $300.

A grocery voucher of $300, triple the original amount, will be given to Singaporeans aged 21 and above and living in one- or two-room HDB flats. They will also receive a further $100 voucher in 2021.

All late payment charges for HDB mortgage arrears are suspended for three months.

Meanwhile, citizens aged 50 and above this year will get a $100 cash top-up on their Passion Card.

Self-help groups were also highlighted in the relief budget, with each group eligible to receive grants of $20m for a period of over two years to enhance community support.

Community Development Councils will also receive $75m to address local needs. 

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