Parliament: Temporary bridging loan scheme, enhanced training support package extended for 6 months to help firms

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

SINGAPORE - Further enhancements to support schemes will be made to help firms in both hard-hit sectors and those which are growing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in Parliament on Monday (Oct 5).

Several measures are also being extended to ensure that "support does not taper off too sharply", he said.

In his ministerial statement on the Government's strategy to emerge stronger from the pandemic, DPM Heng announced the extension of the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme for six months, until September 2021, at reduced levels. The programme is aimed at helping local companies manage their immediate cash flow needs.

The Enhanced Training Support Package will also be extended for a further six months, to June 30, 2021, 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 on Monday.

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, said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

This will help companies preserve their core capabilities and enable workers to retain specialised skills, he added.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) said in a joint statement on Monday 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.

Since March 1, more than 121,000 training places have been taken up under the enhanced training support package, with over 41,000 employees from 1,000 firms across sectors 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 who hire persons with disabilities between September 2020 to February 2021.

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 also 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.

The central bank will also announce details on the extension of payment moratoriums, which are intended to cushion the tapering off of support measures, while facilitating restructuring where needed, 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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