Heng Swee Keat: $350 million support package & 75% wage offset to help local aviation sector

The enhanced Jobs Support Scheme will provide a 75 per cent wage offset for the first $4,600 of monthly wages for every local worker in employment.

Martino Tan| March 26, 04:32 PM

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has announced additional help to support specific sectors that are most directly affected by Covid19.

Building on the Unity Budget which was delivered in February earlier this year, Heng announced more financial support for businesses and local workers in the aviation, tourism, food services, transport, and the arts and culture sector.

Heng said that global connectivity is of fundamental importance to Singapore, noting the key role that the aviation sector plays,

"Our aviation sector has significant linkages to the rest of the economy. If it collapses in a crisis, it will be very hard for the aviation industry to rebuild after the crisis is over, and the recovery of the rest of the economy will be impeded.

We must therefore ensure that this temporary shock to our air hub does not become a permanent one."

These enhanced measures were announced by Heng in Parliament today (Mar. 26) as part of what is called the Resilience Budget.

Sectors that rely on tourism and international travel have been hit the hardest, he noted.

For example, the Singapore Airlines (SIA) is projected to post losses amounting to S$1.26 billion in fiscal year 2021 before interest and taxes, and a 25 percent decline in revenue year on year, according to a DBS Group Research report forecast.

Support for locals in the aviation industry

Heng noted that daily passenger traffic has fallen by more than 90 per cent.

He added that SIA has announced a 96 per cent cut to their scheduled capacity up to end-April across their entire network.

Hence, Heng will provide an enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) of up to S$400 million to retain the local workers in the aviation industry.

Heng said that the government will provide a total of 75 per cent wage offset for the first S$4,600 of monthly wages for every local worker in employment.

Heng noted that this will be paid in the same months as the main Jobs Support Scheme pay-outs.

Heng added that the government will introduce a S$350 million enhanced aviation support package to fund measures such as rebates on landing and parking charges, and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.

Support to help tourism industry

The enhanced JSS, that will offer a 75 per cent wage offset for the first S$4,600 monthly wage, will also apply to licensed hotels, travel agencies, tourist attractions cruise terminals and operators, and purposed-built MICE venue operators.

Heng will also set aside $90 million to help the tourism industry.

Support for food services, transport and arts & culture sector

Heng said that the food services sector, which was directly affected by the recently announced safe distancing measures, will receive more help and support too.

Heng will enhance the JSS for F&B firms by providing a total of 50 per cent wage offset for the first S$4,600 monthly wage.

For the transport industry, Heng will extend and enhance the Point-to-Point Support Package, which will cost the government S$95 million.

Heng noted that eligible taxi drivers and PHC drivers will continue to receive the Special Relief Fund payments of S$300 per vehicle per month until end September.

Heng will also provide a one-year road tax rebate and a six-month waiver of parking charges at government-managed parking facilities.

For the arts and culture sector, Heng will provide an additional S$55 million support package.

This will include providing additional support to major companies and leading arts group, enhancing the National Arts Council's Capability Development Scheme, and stepping up its digitalisation efforts.

Top image by Goh Rhy Yan from Unsplash.