Coronavirus: $9 billion to go out in April to help families, businesses, says DPM Heng Swee Keat

DPM Heng highlighted the Solidarity Payment, which is one of the most immediate measures to be rolled out. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - About $9 billion in support measures will be rolled out to families and businesses in April, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Sunday (April 12).

This includes a one-off payout of $600 which nine in 10 Singaporean adults will receive on Tuesday (April 14) through their bank accounts.

The rest can provide the Government with their bank details and get the money by April 28, or receive this "Solidarity Payment" by cheque from April 30 onward.

In an interview with CNA938 radio station, Mr Heng said he fully understood the difficulties facing businesses beset by the coronavirus pandemic, but urged them to use the Government's support packages to retain their workers.

"With the support, we should work together to tide over this very difficult period," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

One of the most immediate measures to be rolled out is the Solidarity Payment, he noted.

"I hope that this will provide some support, especially for our low-income families," he said.

Mr Heng also recapped other support measures under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets - three support packages which, combined, amount to a $59.9 billion war chest against Covid-19.

Firms and tenants badly hit by the economic fallout from Covid-19 have called on the Government to provide more help, more quickly, as have several trade associations and parliamentarians representing them during the Budget debates.

On Sunday, Mr Heng noted that all firms will get 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of each local worker's monthly wages subsidised by the Government for this month, under the Jobs Support Scheme.

"This is a very significant support, and I hope that businesses do their part in keeping their workers, retaining them, so that we can emerge stronger after this," said Mr Heng.

The Government is also looking at "various indicators" to see how much more might be needed from past reserves to help Singapore meet the fallout from the pandemic, he added.

But he urged businesses and Singaporeans to focus on how to make the best use of the amounts already allocated to ride through this difficult period.

For now, containing the spread of the virus is the foremost priority, said Mr Heng, reiterating the importance of staying home and taking safe distancing measures seriously.

"Enhanced distancing measures will be inconvenient, but it is far more important to protect one another, and bear with the inconvenience," he said.

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