SINGAPORE — The Singapore government will set aside $11 billion from its 2021 Budget to address the country's immediate public health needs, support its workers and businesses, as well as help sectors that are still under stress amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Emerging Stronger Together Budget was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his 2021 Budget speech in Parliament on Tuesday (16 February).
Citing vaccinations as being key to protecting Singaporeans' health, Heng said $4.8 billion from the package would be put towards public health and safe re-opening measures. As of Sunday, close to 250,000 Singapore residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, out of whom around 55,000 have also received their second dose.
Heng added that $700 million would also go towards extending the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), which provides wage support to employers, for sectors that "continue to be hard-hit". With over $25 billion having already been spent on JSS, he noted that the current tranche will continue to cover wages for most sectors till March.
With the extension, Tier 1 sectors – aviation, aerospace and tourism – will have their JSS support extended by six months. Firms in these sectors will get 30 per cent support for wages paid between April and June, and 10 per cent support for wages paid from July to September.
For firms in Tier 2 sectors – including retail, arts and culture, food services and built environment – the JSS will be extended at 10 per cent wage support for three months, up to June. Heng noted that this excludes businesses like supermarkets, which come under Tier 3B.
No additional JSS support will be given to firms in the Tier 3A sector past March. "These sectors are generally recovering," said Heng.
With nightlife establishments such as pubs and nightclubs still unable to reopen, their owners can apply for grants from the Ministry of Trade and Industry or Enterprise Singapore to help with pivoting towards other permissible activities or winding down, he added.
To help workers move into growth areas, specific schemes within the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will be extended, such as Jobs Growth Incentive as well as specific traineeship, attachment and training opportunities.
Support for worst-hit sectors
Heng said another $870 million will be put towards target support and extending cost relief for the aviation sector. He noted that the recovery of global air travel would continue to take some time and that total passenger traffic levels at Changi Airport were at just 2 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels.
For the land transport sector, Heng said that taxi and private hire car drivers will continue to require government support. To this end, the government will be adding $133 million to the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund.
Another $45 million would also be set aside for the enhancement of the Arts and Culture Resilience Package and the Sports Resilience Package.
For more Budget 2021 updates: yhoo.it/37A35Rd
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