SINGAPORE - Self-employed persons will each receive $9,000 in cash to help tide them over the coronavirus pandemic, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Supplementary Budget speech in Parliament on Thursday (March 26).
Mr Heng said he would set aside $1.2 billion for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which will disburse $1,000 a month for nine months to eligible self-employed persons.
"Over the last few weeks, I received feedback from the labour movement and many self-employed persons calling for stronger support for the self-employed, who have less income security and whose livelihoods may be worse affected during this period of economic uncertainty," he said.
"This group has been harder to reach, as they work in diverse industries, many occupations, with varying working arrangements. They include taxi and private-hire car drivers, real estate agents, media and art freelancers and sport coaches."
Mr Heng added that he would also provide sustained support for the self-employed to train and upskill during the downtime amid the Covid-19 economic slowdown.
He will set aside an additional $48 million to extend the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme, which was first introduced earlier this month.
Under the initial scheme, Singaporean and permanent resident freelancers receive a training allowance of $7.50 an hour when they undergo eligible courses over the next three months.
Mr Heng said he would raise the hourly allowance to $10 with effect from May 1 and extend the scheme to December this year.
The enhanced allowance is on top of existing training subsidies which cover up to 90 per cent of fees, he said. Trainees will also be able to tap their SkillsFuture credit.
More details on the schemes will be forthcoming from the Ministry of Manpower soon.
"Looking ahead, we will see how we can better support self-employed persons in strengthening their financial security," said Mr Heng. "We will study this carefully."
He added that lower-wage workers, including self-employed ones, will have their incomes further augmented under the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme.
During his Budget speech last month, he announced that Singaporeans on Workfare last year would receive a one-off special cash payment amounting to 20 per cent of their payout last year, with a minimum payout of $100.
He will be increasing this payout to $3,000 per recipient.
To qualify for Workfare, Singaporeans must be 35 and older and earn a gross monthly income of not more than $2,300, among other criteria.