Forum: Getting promised support for small business an uphill battle

The past two years have been a baptism of fire for small and medium-sized enterprises in Singapore. Lockdowns, heightened alerts and restrictions have all had adverse impacts on businesses.

There is a great deal of gratitude for government support schemes like the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) and Rental Support Scheme, especially from the food and beverage (F&B) industry, which has had to navigate a particularly prickly set of obstacles.

As a business operator, I am grateful for the support the Government has promised small businesses, but the reality of trying to obtain the promised support has been an uphill battle.

Singapore first went into phase two (heightened alert) in May, but my business has yet to receive the promised support from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) even as the end of the year looms.

This is despite multiple appeals, numerous phone calls, and even an in-person appointment made with Iras.

Time is of the essence during these tumultuous times, when small businesses struggle with cash flow.

As a business owner, I have decided not to lay off any staff, and minimised unpaid leave during lockdowns based on these government subsidies, because my staff are at the core of the business.

Since my appeal in June, I have heard absolutely nothing from Iras about the JSS payouts.

Iras does not appear to have a dedicated team handling inquiries and appeals. Each time I call, I am told to be patient. Writing to the quality service manager similarly yielded no results.

At my wits' end, I booked an in-person appointment, only to receive a call telling me not to come, because no one on hand was able to help with the JSS.

My interactions with Iras have left me with a string of unanswered questions:

Why did my F&B establishment, which is registered with the Singapore Food Agency, not receive the promised support in the first place?

Who is actually handling JSS support appeals and inquiries?

But above all, what good is support if it arrives when it is too late?

Goh Tong Hann