SINGAPORE - To help households cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, all Singaporeans aged 21 and above will now receive a one-off payout of $600, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (April 6), as the Government enhanced the payout for a second time in as many months.
In February, the Government had announced payouts of between $100 and $300 for every adult Singaporean. In March, this was tripled to between $300 and $900, with payouts due to be distributed from August to September.
On Monday, Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, announced that $300 of that payment has been brought forward to April and supplemented with a further $300 to form what will be called the Solidarity Payment.
Mr Heng said the additional payments announced on Monday will cost the Government an additional $1.1 billion.
The rest of the payments will also be brought forward to June. All adult Singaporeans will thus receive $600 in April, with those who qualify for the higher tiers receiving a further $300 or $600 in June.
The $300 payout for each parent with at least one child aged 20 and below, and the $100 PAssion Card top-up for Singaporeans aged 50 and above this year have also been brought forward to June. In March, Mr Heng had said that the top-up will be done in cash instead to avoid the need to queue at top-up stations.
For the majority of Singaporeans who have provided their bank account details to the Government, the Solidarity Payment will be credited directly into the bank accounts by April 14, said Mr Heng. The rest will receive the payment by cheque, to be issued in stages later, starting from April 30. Eligible citizens will be notified of their payment via SMS from April 15.
Not everyone will need these cash payouts, Mr Heng noted.
"I am very encouraged that many have written to me, my ministerial colleagues and MPs that they do not need the cash payouts, and suggest that we give these to those who need the cash more. I thank fellow Singaporeans for your thoughtfulness," he said.
He urged those who can to donate to charities on the Giving.sg website or the Community Chest's Courage Fund, or to directly share it with others.
Others who still need support can approach the social service offices and community centres to apply for new schemes such as the Temporary Relief Fund and the upcoming Covid-19 Support Grant, as well as existing ComCare schemes.
The Temporary Relief Fund, which is now open for applications, will give a one-time cash grant of $500 to those who have lost their jobs or income because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Covid-19 Support Grant, which will open for application in May, will provide longer-term financial aid and job support.
Mr Heng also urged Singaporeans to provide emotional and mental health support to their fellow citizens. Amid the new circuit breaker measures, which will see a shutdown of most workplaces and schools in Singapore from this week, Singapore's community mental health support services will continue to provide care and support through phone consultations, or home visits for those who may need more support.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has also announced that it will set up a National Care hotline to help anyone facing stress or anxiety caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"In this time of need, I am glad that mental health professionals and trained volunteers have stepped forward to offer their help in setting up the new hotline," said Mr Heng.
The "circuit breaker" measures introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus here will see pre-schools and student care centres suspending general services for a month. In response to parents who have asked if they can get any fee refunds or waivers, the MSF had earlier explained that many service providers would face closure or have to lay off staff if providing refunds were made compulsory.
"Rather than to mandate refunds which help families but hurt businesses, the Government is implementing assistance measures, to help both families and businesses," a ministry spokesman had said in response to queries.