Singapore will be allocating S$55 billion, approximately 11 per cent of the country's GDP, toward fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, announced Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on Thursday, March 26.
Part of this supplementary budget, which Heng called the "Resilience Budget", will go toward enhancing the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).
The JSS was originally launched during Budget 2020 to help businesses retain local employees during this period of economic uncertainty.
Higher levels and longer durations of support
Singapore's immediate priority, said Heng, is to "support our workers, and protect livelihoods".
Thus, one-third of the Resilience Budget is dedicated toward doing so.
Previously, Heng had announced that all employers, with the exception of government organisations, would receive a cash grant of eight per cent of the wages of each of their local (Singapore citizen and permanent resident) employees for three months, between October 2019 and December 2019.
The monthly wage cap on the JSS was announced to be S$3,600 per employee.
Boost to JSS
With the latest enhancements, Heng explained, employers will now receive a cash grant of 25 per cent rather than eight per cent.
In addition, the monthly wage cap has been raised by S$1,000 to S$4,600 per employee, the median wage in Singapore.
The duration of the JSS will also be extended, to cover nine months of wages rather than the originally-announced three months, until the end of 2020.
These measures will help employers retain their local employees.
Heng added, "With this support from the government, I urge employers to do your part to hold on to your workers."
Additional support for severely-affected sectors
The Covid-19 outbreak has hit different parts of the economy to different degrees, said Heng.
As a result of the almost complete halt in international visitor arrivals to Singapore, the most badly affected sectors are the aviation and tourism industries.
Significantly affected sectors include consumer-facing industries, such as food services, retail trade, and land transport.
The JSS will also provide additional support to the aviation and tourism sector as well as the food services sector.
For the aviation and tourism sector, the following businesses will receive support of 75 per cent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages per local employee:
For the food services sector, licensed food shops and food stalls -- including hawker centres -- will receive support of 50 per cent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages per local employee.
More than S$15 billion being allocated to JSS
A total of S$15.1 billion is being allocated by the government to support more than 1.9 million local employees through the JSS.
Employers do not need to apply for the JSS. Rather, the grant they receive will be computed based on Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution data.
Employers will receive the JSS payouts in three portions: in May, July, and October of 2020.
Top image via Kin Pastor on Pexels.