Budget 2020: $5.6b packages to help alleviate economic slowdown

SINGAPORE — The Government is introducing two special packages worth a total of $5.6 billion to help support businesses and households amid an economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The bulk of the money - $4 billion - will go towards a Stabilisation and Support Package to help workers stay in their jobs and assist companies with their cash flow.

The remaining $1.6 billion will go to a Care and Support Package to help households, with the less well-off getting more help.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat announced the packages in his Budget speech on Tuesday (18 February).

Apart from the packages, $800 million has been set aside to support efforts at combatting the coronavirus.

Under the Stabilisation and Support Package, the Government will help all companies retain local workers. For every local worker, the Government will offset 8 per cent of wages up to a monthly cap of $3,600 for three months. Employers will get the payment by the end of July.

With over 1.9 million local employees, the wage support measures will cost the Government $1.3 billion.

The ceiling for the Wage Credit Scheme will also be increased from $4,000 to $5,000 for salary increases given in 2019 and 2020. The scheme currently co-funds 15 per cent of wage increases for Singaporeans earning a gross monthly wage of up to $4,000 for last year and 10 per cent for this year.

Heng said the co-funding levels for the scheme will also be raised to 20 per cent for 2019 and 15 per cent for this year. The changes under the Wage Credit Scheme will see another $1.1 billion go to about 90,000 companies and benefit more than 700,000 Singaporean employees.

There will also be a Corporate Income Tax Rebate for the Year of Assessment 2020 at a rate of 25 per cent of tax payable, capped at $15,000 per company. The rebate will benefit all tax-paying companies and cost about $400 million.

Meanwhile, under the Care and Support Package, all Singaporeans aged 21 and above will receive a one-off cash payout of $300, $200 or $100, depending on their income.

In addition, the annual GST Voucher - U-save rebates which help HDB households with their utilities expenses - will be doubled through a special one-off payment to all eligible households. The Service and Conservancy Charges rebate will also be extended by another year, with eligible households receiving rebates of between one and a half, and three and a half months.

Lower-wage workers will get a Workfare Special Payment to further offset daily living expenses. And needy Singaporeans will also get grocery vouchers worth $100 each year in 2020 and 2021 for use at major supermarkets to help defray their food cost.