Additional COVID-19 support measures for lower-income Singaporeans and SMEs
The support measures will cost $1.2 billion but will not be drawn from reserves.
Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong announced that he will be tabling the Supplementary Support Bill in Parliament on Monday (Jul 5).
The $1.2 billion package will be targeted at helping small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and lower-income households tide over this period of Heightened Alert, which began in mid-May.
Support measures for businesses, SMEs and low-income households
Mr Wong said: “During times of crises, we recognise that lower-income households and SMEs face bigger challenges. That is why we have designed our interventions to benefit them the most.”
He announced that two financing schemes will be extended to allow businesses to more easily access credit.
These schemes are the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, which will help local businesses manage immediate cash flow needs, and the Enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme – Trade Loan, which will help businesses in inventory and stock financing.
The loans will be extended for another six months, from Oct 1 to Mar 31 next year.
He also highlighted the additional measures that have been put in place that this Supplementary Support Bill will cover.
This includes the Job Support Scheme, which provides wage support to employers affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
The driver relief fund also offered eligible taxi and private-hire car drivers $750 per vehicle per month from May 16 to June 30, to offset the fall in demand due to the heightened restrictions.
Hawkers in government-owned premises also received two months of rental waivers.
He also highlighted the COVID-19 Recovery Grant, which offers up to $700 for lower- to middle-income workers significantly affected during this period until end-July.
Economy expected to grow by 4-6% this year
Mr Wong said that despite the uncertainty surrounding Singapore’s economic outlook, we can expect GDP to grow by four to six per cent this year.
However, he noted that the recovery will be uneven across sectors, mentioning specifically the aviation and tourism sectors which will likely still suffer due to travel restrictions.
He also said that the Supplementary Support Bill will not require the government to draw on its reserves.
He highlighted that last year’s expenditure was the highest ever in Singapore’s history, with a projected $53.7 billion expected to be drawn from our past reserves.
“It’s an amount which we are not likely to be able to put back anytime soon, if at all,” he added.
He cautioned that the government should be fiscally responsible, and said: “Now that things are better, we should refrain from drawing further on past reserves. Instead we will fund the support measures using resources that were approved in this year’s Budget.”
Mr Wong also reiterated the road-map that the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce has prepared for Singapore’s transition into living with an endemic COVID-19.
With more Singaporeans vaccinated, Mr Wong said that there is greater hope that Singapore will be able to loosen more restrictions. He also expects that Singaporeans will be able to dine out in larger groups of five from Jul 12.
He thanked frontline workers for supporting the battle against COVID-19, as well as Singaporeans who have been cooperating with safe management measures.
He said: “In the darkest moments of this pandemic, we have seen the Singapore spirit shine brightly. So let’s move forward with renewed confidence about the future. We will overcome this crisis together, and we will emerge as a better, stronger, and more united Singapore.”