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The Most Comprehensive Guide To Fourth ‘Fortitude’ Budget Measures For Singapore Amidst COVID-19

To those who tuned into our live reporting stream during DPM Heng Swee Keat’s address earlier on, I sincerely thank you for your company. But if you were watching the live broadcast instead and couldn’t keep tabs on the information overload that was the hour-long address, this summary might prove useful because it contains all you need to know about the Fortitude Budget, fourth such budget to help Singaporeans tide through the COVID-19 crisis.


Summary of the Statement

Credit – Channel News Asia

1. Enhancement to JSS

a. Top-up of support to 75% for all firms in May 2020 during circuit breaker (as previously
announced)

b. Extension of JSS to cover wages paid in August 2020

The JSS will be extended by one month to cover wages paid in August 2020, bringing the total wage support under the JSS to ten months.

Credit – Ministry of Finance

c. JSS support for phased reopening post-circuit breaker

Only employers who are not allowed to resume operations will continue to receive 75% support for wages paid to local employees, during the period for which they are not allowed to resume operations, or until August 2020, whichever is earlier. Pro-ration will be applied if operations resume in the middle of the month.

d. Update of base tier of support for severely-affected sectors

The list of sectors deemed to be directly and severely affected by travel restrictions and/or safe
distancing measures have been updated.

These tiers of support will apply once the employer is allowed to resume operations. Employers can refer to the IRAS JSS website for more information about their base tier or if they wish to submit an appeal to be eligible for a different tier of support.

Sector Tiers

Tier 1 sectors include Aviation and Aerospace, Tourism Hospitality, Conventions and Exhibitions, and Built Environment.

Tier 2 sectors include Food Services, Retail, Arts and Entertainment, Land Transport, and Marine and Offshore.

Tier 3 sectors have yet to be specified.


2. Rental Relief for SME Tenants in Private Non-Residential Properties

For SME tenants (i.e. with not more than $100 million in annual turnover 1) with qualifying leases or licences commencing before 25 March 2020, the Government will provide a new cash grant to offset their rental costs as stated in the table below. This is in addition to the Property Tax Rebate for 2020 announced earlier.

Credit – Ministry of Finance

Credit – Ministry of Finance

a. For qualifying SME tenants of qualifying commercial properties (e.g. shops)

The Government will provide a new government cash grant of about 0.8 months of rent. Together with the Property Tax Rebate announced earlier for 2020 which property owners are required to pass on fully, this brings total government support to about two months for SME tenants of qualifying commercial properties.

b. For qualifying SME tenants of other non-residential properties (e.g. industrial and office properties)

The Government will provide a new cash grant of about 0.64 month’s of rent. Together with the Property Tax Rebate announced earlier for 2020, this brings total government support to about one month for SME tenants of other non-residential properties.

SME property owners who run a trade or business on their own property will also be eligible for the new cash grant. Vacant property and land under development will not be eligible.

Implementation of the New Government Cash Grant

The new government cash grant will be disbursed automatically by IRAS to the qualifying property owners. The amount of grant will be calculated based on the Annual Values of properties for 2020, as determined by IRAS as at 13 April 2020.

For property owners whose properties are only partially let out, or whose properties are let out to both SME and non-SME tenants under a single property tax account, they will not automatically receive the government cash grant.

In such instances, the property owner should submit an application to IRAS, and provide supporting documents, including proof of SME tenants within its property. IRAS will pro-rate the government cash grant accordingly. More details of the new cash grant will be provided on the IRAS website by end-June 2020.

Mandated rental waiver by landlords

Separately, the Ministry of Law will also be introducing a new Bill mandating that landlords grant rental waivers to qualifying SME tenants.

If the new Bill is passed by Parliament, SME tenants of qualifying commercial properties who have suffered a significant revenue drop will benefit from a total of four months of rental relief shared equally between the Government and landlords. SME tenants of industrial and office properties will also be given some relief. More details in June 2020.

Rental Relief for Tenants in Public Properties

To help alleviate costs for businesses located in Government-owned/managed nonresidential premises, the following tenants will qualify for rental waivers:

a) Stallholders in Hawker Centres and Markets

Stallholders who earlier qualified for 3 months’ worth of rental waiver will now get 5 months’ worth of rental waiver in total, with a minimum waiver of $200 per month.

b) Commercial Tenants

Commercial tenants who earlier qualified for 2 months’ worth of rental waiver will now get 4 months’ worth of rental waiver in total. (Eligible tenants may include those providing commercial accommodation, retail, F&B, recreation, entertainment, healthcare, and other services.)

c) Other Non-Residential Tenants

Other tenants of non-residential premises who earlier qualified for 1 month’s worth of rental waiver will now get 2 months’ worth of rental waiver in total. (Eligible tenants/lessees may include those in premises used for industrial or agricultural purpose, or as an office, a business or science park, or a petrol station.)

The rental waivers do not apply to any rented premises, or a part of any rented premises, used for residential purposes. The rental waivers also do not apply to tenants who pay property tax.

Tenants/ lessees paying property tax will be receiving the Government cash grant instead.

In total, these rental waivers will cost $365 million.


3. Support For Digital Transformation

Boosting e-payment adoption

The Government will now boost its support for stallholders in hawker centres, coffee shops, and industrial canteens to adopt this unified e-payment solution. In the next phase, agencies will prioritise the deployment of Singapore Quick Response Codes (SGQRs) for contactless payments. Stallholders will only need to sign up once with the master acquirer, NETS.

Through the SGQR, stallholders will be able to receive payments through 19 different providers, which include Dash, GrabPay, and local bank offerings such as DBS PayLah!.

A bonus of up to $1,500 ($300 per month, over a period of five months) will be given to encourage stallholders to adopt this e-payment solution. The Government will also bear all merchant transaction fees until 31 December 2023.

Stallholders who wish to sign-up for the solution can contact NETS at 6274 1212 or email CFCepayments@nets.com.sg.

Digital Resilience Bonus

The Digital Resilience Bonus provides additional support to enterprises seeking to uplift their digital capabilities to adapt to safe management practices after the circuit breaker period. As a pilot, the Bonus will be targeted at the Food Services and Retail sectors.

Food Services and Retail enterprises that adopt pre-defined categories of digital solutions can receive bonus payouts of up to $10,000 to offset the cost of adoption. More details will be announced at a later date.

Credit – Ministry of Finance

Enterprises that adopt qualifying solutions in any one of the three categories, on top of baseline solutions, will receive bonus payouts for the respective categories. More details on qualifying conditions will be announced at a later date.

National Innovation Challenges

To address immediate nationwide priorities and challenges of reopening and recovery post circuit breaker, IMDA and ESG will introduce a set of National Innovation Challenges.

The National Innovation Challenges will be launched over a series of Innovation Calls, starting from Q3 2020. Successful solutions may receive Government co-funding for initial deployment.


4. SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package

The SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package aims to create close to 100,000 jobs, traineeships, and skills training opportunities, to support our workers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.

Credit – Ministry of Finance

SGUnited Jobs

The SGUnited Jobs initiative will be scaled up and targeted to create more than 40,000 jobs in 2020, of which about 15,000 openings will be in the public sector. These consist of long-term and short-term roles, to meet future and immediate needs.

The public sector is bringing forward agencies’ hiring plans, creating jobs in new capabilities and functions, and creating short-term jobs arising from COVID-19 operations. The public sector will also provide two-year positions to local jobseekers and train them in key capability areas, to eventually place them in relevant private-sector jobs.

Government agencies will work with private businesses to create about 25,000 jobs.

Job seekers can explore new job opportunities here.

SGUnited Traineeships and Mid-Career Traineeships

Given the strong interest from businesses and public agencies, the Government aims to more than double the number of traineeships available for young locals this year, from 8,000 to 21,000.

Of these, there will be new traineeship positions in the R&D sector, including universities, A*STAR research institutes, AI Singapore, and local deep-tech startups through SG Innovate. Recent and new graduates can apply for these opportunities here from 1 June 2020 onwards.

To cater to the needs of mid-career individuals, a new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships programme has been created to facilitate about 4,000 more traineeships for unemployed mid-career jobseekers looking to gain meaningful industry-relevant work experience and boost employability for future job opportunities.

This will be on top of the 21,000 opportunities under the SGUnited Traineeships. More details will be provided in due course. Overall, both programmes aim to facilitate about 25,000 traineeship opportunities for young locals and experienced professionals.

SGUnited Skills Programme

The SGUnited Skills (SGUS) programme is a full-time training programme ranging from six to 12 months.

The programme will comprise certifiable courses delivered by companies and the Continuing Education Training (CET) Centres, including Institutes of Higher Learning. The training courses are designed in partnership with the industry.

Trainees will have the chance to apply the skills learnt during the programme, through opportunities like workplace immersions and industry projects. Trainees will also benefit from employment facilitation efforts offered by training providers.

Trainees will also receive a training allowance of $1,200 per month for the duration of the programme, to cover basic subsistence expenses. Course fees will be highly subsidised, to keep SGUS affordable. Individuals can use their SkillsFuture Credit to offset the course fees.

More details on the SGUS programme will be provided by the Ministry of Education.


5. Additional Support for Social Service Agencies (SSAs) through Invictus Fund Top-Up

The Government will provide a top-up of S$18 million to the Invictus Fund to enhance support for SSAs which continue serving their beneficiaries during this period. More details about the next round of Invictus Fund applications will be available at a later date.

Additional Support for Charities through the Singapore Totalisator Board (TB)’s Enhanced Fund-Raising Programme (EFR)

Currently, TB provides 40% matching on donations raised by charities, capped at $100,000 per fundraising project. This applies to all modes of donations, including those through approved digital platforms such as Giving.sg or the websites of the individual charities.

The Government will partner TB to provide charities with dollar-for-dollar matching, capped at $250,000 per charity. This will strengthen support for charities that may have seen a drop in donations and other income during this period.

After a charity fully utilises the $250,000 dollar-for-dollar matching cap, TB will continue to provide 40% matching for eligible fund-raising projects, capped at $100,000 per fund-raising project.

To be eligible, the charity must be registered with the Commissioner of Charities. Qualifying donations are those raised through approved fund-raising projects commencing from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 (both dates inclusive).

In addition, the fund-raising project should not have benefited from other Government matching funds, such as the Cultural Matching Fund or the Bicentennial Community Fund.


TLDR;

Credit – TODAYOnline

An additional S$33 Billion will be mobilised in the Fortitude Budget.

1. Enhancements to JSS

a. Extended for 1 more month to cover wages in August 2020, bringing total coverage to 10 months of wages.

b. For firms that are not allowed to resume operations, Government will continue to provide wage support at 75% until August 2020, or when allowed to reopen, whichever comes first.

c. Increased support for some affected sectors (eg. aerospace, retail, marine) from 25% to 50% or even 75%.

SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package

Aims to create 40,000 jobs by end-2020 (15,000 jobs in public sector, 25,000 jobs in private sector)

SGUnited Traineeships

21,000 traineeships for local first-time job seekers

4,000 traineeships for local mid-career job seekers to learn new skills and start new careers

SGUnited Skills

Training courses for about 30,000 job seekers to upgrade their skills while looking for a job

Training allowance of S$1,200 per month for course duration to cover basic expenses

Hiring Incentive

Hiring incentive for employers who hire local workers who have completed eligible traineeship and training programmes.

For those under 40: 20% of monthly salary for 6 months, capped at S$6,000 in total.

For those 40 and above: 40% of monthly salary for 6 months, capped at S$12,000 in total.

2. Supporting Enterprises

Foreign Worker Levy Waiver & Rebate

Extended by up to 2 months for businesses not allowed to resume operations after Circuit Breaker

100% waiver and S$750 rebate in June 2020

50% waiver and S$375 rebate in July 2020

Deferment of Higher CPF Contribution Rates

Increase in CPF contribution rates for senior workers deferred by 1 year, from 1 Jan 2021 to 1 Jan 2022

Expanding Rental Relief for SMEs

S$2 Billion in cash grants to help SME tenants with rental costs

Including Property Tax Rebate for 2020, Government will offset 2 months’ rental for qualifying SME tenants of commercial properties & offset 1 months’ rental for qualifying SME tenants of industrial and office properties

Rental Relief for Government Tenants

Additional rental waivers for commercial and other non-residential tenants of government properties

Stallholders of hawker centres and market will have an additional 2 months waiver in addition to the existing 3 months, bringing total waiver period to 5 months

Commercial tenants will have an additional 2 months waiver in addition to the existing 2 months, bringing total waiver period to 4 months

Industrial, office, and agricultural tenants will have an additional 1 month waiver in addition to existing 1 month, bringing total waiver period to 2 months

Financing Support for Promising Startups

S$285 million of additional financing support for promising startups by co-investing with the private sector

Adopting e-Payments

Bonus of S$300 per month over 5 months to encourage adoption of e-payments by stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops, and industrial canteens

Digital Resilience Bonus

Pilot starting with Food Services and Retail sectors

Payout of up to S$5,000 to help business digitalise with PayNow Corporate, e-invoicing, business process or e-commerce solutions

Additional payout of S$5,000 for businesses that use advanced solutions

National Innovation Challenges

Encourage partnership with the private sector for industry-led solutions to reopen Singapore safely

3. Strengthening Community Resilience

COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG)

Additional S$800 million set aside for CSG to continue supporting Singaporeans and PRs who need help (those who have lost their jobs, are placed on no-pay leave, or face significantly reduced salaries)

Up to S$800 per month for 3 months for eligible recipients

Solidarity Utilities Credit

One-off S$100 Solidarity Utilities Credit for each household with at least one Singaporean Citizen

Covers all property types

Will be credited into households’ July or August utilities bills with SP Group

Comes on top of the Solidarity Payment and Care & Support Package

Fostering Digital Inclusion

For Students: accelerated timeline for all secondary school students to own a digital learning device

For Seniors: Seniors Go Digital movement to build digital literacy via one-to-one coaching and small-group learning, and financial support for lower-income seniors to own digital devices

Enhanced Fund-Raising (EFR) Programme

Dollar-for-dollar matching on eligible donations raised between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, capped at S$250,000 matching per charity

Additional S$100 million top-up to strengthen support for charities

Invictus Fund

S$18 million top-up to help social service agencies maintain services, retain staff, and adopt technology


Fortitude Budget | More Information


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