Rental and property tax waivers and other help for businesses hit by Covid-19 pandemic

Restaurants, shops, hotels and tourist attractions will pay no property tax for 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (March 26) announced a raft of measures to help businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The most help go to those in the worst-hit sectors like aviation and tourism. Million-dollars worth of measures also went out in the form of tax and rental relief for shops, hotels and eateries, among others.

Here are the key measures.

1. Help with property and income taxes

Restaurants, shops, hotels and tourist attractions will pay no property tax for 2020.

Businesses in other non-residential properties - like offices or industrial properties - will get a 30 per cent property tax rebate.

Income tax payments will be deferred for three months for firms and self-employed persons, with no application required.

2. Rental waivers enhanced

Hawkers managed by the National Environment Agency will get three months of rental waiver, up from the one month announced in the Feb 18 Budget.

Public agencies, including the Housing Board and National Arts Council, will waive rent for eligible tenants for two months, up from half a month set out earlier.

Those benefiting will include social service agencies and charities.

All government charges and fees will be frozen for a year from April 1.

3. Million-dollar packages for worst-hit sectors

The aviation sector, one of the worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, will get a $350 million enhanced support package.

This covers measures like rebates on landing and parking fees, and rental relief for airlines.

Mr Heng will also set aside $90 million for the tourism industry to make sure it rebounds from the crisis when the time is right.

These measures are on top of enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme announced by Mr Heng, which offsets 75 per cent of the first $4,600 in monthly wages for Singaporean workers in those hard-hit sectors.

Taxi and private-hire car drivers will benefit from a $95 million enhancement to the Point-to-Point support package, which aims to help defray drivers' costs and relieve the shortfall in earnings from the outbreak.

Private bus owners will get a one-year road tax rebate and a six-month waiver of parking charges at government-managed parking facilities. This will cost $23 million.

Jobs and training in the arts and culture sector will see $55 million in support from the Government, including for digitalisation and retaining jobs.

The Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth will share more details later.

4. More help in loans for SMEs

Mr Heng will set aside $20 billion of loan capital to help support firms and catalyse private sector loan capital.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will also benefit from a doubling of the quantum for trade loans to $10 million under the enterprise financing scheme (EFS).

The Government will also increase the share of its risk to up to 80 per cent, from 70 per cent.

Loan insurance premiums will be further subsidised to 80 per cent, up from 50 per cent.

The maximum supported loan under the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP) will be increased to $5 million, from $1 million.

A working capital loan for SMEs under the EFS will also have the maximum quantum increased from $600,000 to $1 million.

Loan payments for this loan and the TBLP can be deferred on request, subject to assessment by participating financial institutions.

Additional reporting by Goh Yan Han

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