Extension of help for firms' cash flow, training needs

Schemes will continue, at reduced levels, to ensure support does not taper off too sharply

The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme is aimed at helping local companies manage their immediate cash flow needs. PHOTO: ST FILE

A scheme to help local companies manage their immediate cash flow needs will be extended for another six months.

The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme will continue until September next year, at reduced levels, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced yesterday.

It is one of several measures that are being extended to ensure "support does not taper off too sharply" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Further enhancements will also be made to existing schemes to help firms in both hard-hit sectors as well as those that are growing.

In his ministerial statement on the Government's strategy to emerge stronger from the pandemic, Mr Heng announced that the Enhanced Training Support Package will also be extended for a further six months, to June 30 next year, to provide enhanced course fee subsidies for firms in hard-hit sectors.

This will be available to firms in sectors such as air transport, retail and tourism, as well as marine and offshore, which was added to the list of eligible sectors yesterday.

The absentee payroll rates will also be lowered to 80 per cent from January, capped at $7.50 per hour, in recognition of the gradually recovering economic situation.

This will help companies preserve their core capabilities and enable workers to retain specialised skills, said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance.

The Economic Development Board and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) said in a joint statement yesterday that they will work with appointed training partners to meet the demands of the marine and offshore sector.

SSG is partnering with the National University of Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and NTUC LearningHub to offer 38 courses for the sector, in areas such as electrical power engineering, liquefied natural gas bunkering, shipyard safety and cyber security.

Across sectors, since March 1, more than 121,000 training places have been taken up under the enhanced training support package, with more than 41,000 employees from 1,000 firms benefiting from the initiative.

Other measures are also being put in place and extended for firms that are growing.

The higher tier of wage support, at 50 per cent, under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) scheme, will be provided to firms that hire persons with disabilities between last month and February next year.

The JGI, which was announced in August, provides up to 50 per cent of wage support to firms which hire locals, on the first $5,000 of gross monthly wages for up to 12 months.

Several grants and programmes - the Market Readiness Assistance Grant, Productivity Solutions Grant, Enterprise Development Grant and the Pact programme, which encourages collaborations between companies - will also be enhanced to enable firms to tap new sources of growth.

In addition, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will extend the MAS Singapore Dollar facility for Enterprise Singapore (ESG) loans, which provides lower-cost funding for banks and finance companies to grant loans overseen by ESG, until September next year.

Support to help Singapore enterprises access financing in areas such as trade and project needs will also be adjusted, Mr Heng said.

Further details on these support measures and schemes will be announced by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and MAS.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2020, with the headline Extension of help for firms' cash flow, training needs. Subscribe