Photo credit: Peter Nguyen via Unsplash

Fortitude Budget: Singapore government announces additional support measures worth $33 billion

The fourth wave of support measures brings the total cost this year close to $100 billion.

Nigel Chin

Published: 26 May 2020, 12:00 AM

On Tuesday (May 26), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a fourth wave of support measures to help combat the challenges of COVID-19.

Dubbed the Fortitude Budget, it will cost $33 billion, bringing the total cost of support measures to almost $100 billion this year, which amounts to almost 20 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The government will provide additional support for households and the community, said DPM Heng. Part of the support is to introduce a one-off $100 solidarity utilities credit to each household to help Singaporeans with their utility bills. It will be credited in either the July or August utilities bill and will cover all property types.

[Care and Support Package for Households] To help all Singaporeans with their household expenses during this period,...

Posted by Ministry of Finance (Singapore) on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The government will also create more than 100,000 jobs, traineeships and skills training opportunities as part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skill Package.

Over 40,000 jobs will be created in public and private sectors. The government will also bring forward hiring in sectors like healthcare and childhood education. Job seekers will have more options of traineeships, with 25,000 positions to be created to help them gain industry-relevant experience.

[Creating Good Jobs, Upskilling for the Future] $2 billion has been set aside for the new SGUnited Jobs and Skills...

Posted by Ministry of Finance (Singapore) on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The hiring incentive is expanded too. Companies who hire eligible Singaporeans below 40 years old will have 20 per cent of the workers’ monthly salary covered by the government for over six months, capped at $6,000 in total. These measures are to encourage employers to hire local workers who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes.

On the education front, it was announced that MOE will accelerate the timeline for all secondary school students to own a digital learning device, as part of longer-term plans to support digital literacy for all students.

Help for businesses

A sum in excess of S$500 million will be used to support businesses in their digital transformation. This includes helping food and beverage businesses to handle digital payments instead of dealing with physical cash.

[Building up the Momentum of Digital Transformation] Another $500 million will be set aside to help businesses in their...

Posted by Ministry of Finance (Singapore) on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The duration of the Jobs Support Scheme payouts will be extended by a further month for all firms. Firms that cannot resume operations when circuit breaker ends on Jun 1, such as retail outlets, cinemas, gyms and fitness studios, will receive 76 per cent wage support until August or when they can reopen.

For firms in sectors that are more severely impacted, wage support will increase up to 75 per cent.

It was also announced that hawkers and commercial tenants will receive two more months of waivers on their rentals. Other tenants of government agencies will receive an additional month of waiver.

DPM Heng also said that the government expects most businesses to open by July.

The fourth budget follows on from the previously announced Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets. With in-principle support from President Halimah Yacob, the government will draw another $31 billion from reserves to bring the total amount drawn to $52 billion.

About $13 billion will be set aside as contingency funds to allow the government to respond quickly to any “unforeseeable developments” due to COVID-19.

Earlier on Tuesday, it was announced that Singapore’s GDP is expected to shrink between 4 per cent and 7 per cent, with growth projections for 2020 cut yet again from -1 per cent to -4 per cent due to the impact of COVID-19.

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