Singapore on Tuesday, May 26, announced a SGD33 billion Fortitude Budget for the next phase of its fight against COVID-19, with a focus on jobs.
This Budget aims to continue to support workers and businesses who remain affected by border closures and safe distancing measures. There will also be additional support to help households and community to cope with the disruptions, as well as funding to frontline agencies, to continue the fight against the pandemic.
Together with the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, Singapore is dedicating SGD92.9 billion in the battle against COVID-19, which amounts to 19.2 per cent of the country's GDP.
"This is a landmark package, and a necessary response to an unprecedented crisis," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Part of the Fortitude Budget provides SGD3.8 billion for measures – including the enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme – which were announced on April 21 for the extended circuit breaker period.
Heng added that a distinctive feature of this new Budget is that a bigger contingent sum has been set aside to allow Singapore to respond swiftly to fast-changing situations.
The Jobs Support Scheme will be enhanced, with payouts to be increased by one month for all firms. For companies that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker, 75 per cent wage support will be extended till August 2020 or when they are allowed to re-open, whichever is earlier.
Foreign worker levy and rebate are also extended for up to two months, to support businesses employing migrant workers that had to suspend operations.
There will also be a cash grant to offset the rental costs of SME tenants, which will be automatically disbursed through property owners. "Minister for Law will introduce a new Bill next week. This will mandate that landlords contribute by granting a rental waiver to their SME tenants who have suffered a significant revenue drop in the past few months," Heng said.
Introducing SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, the Minister said close to 100,000 opportunities will be created in three areas – including 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training. This will support the immediate needs of our workers, and raise the skills of our people for future jobs.
Singapore's public sector will be creating 15,000 jobs – to meet long-term needs, such as early childhood education, healthcare and long-term care; and short-term needs related to COVID-19 operations, such as healthcare declaration assistants and swabbers.