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