SINGAPORE - More than $16 billion in Covid-19 government assistance has been given out so far, as Singapore crosses the halfway mark of the circuit breaker period, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (May 13), she said the support was provided between March and May to Singaporeans and businesses under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets.
This includes $7 billion under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), where the Government co-funds the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee. Another $4 billion will be paid out in May.
The Government had earlier announced a total of $63.7 billion in aid under the three Covid-19 support packages, which were rolled out between February and April.
"Our first priority has been to protect people health-wise against Covid-19 and ensure that those infected, including foreign workers, receive the best possible care to help them recover," said Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
"With economic activities slowing, our other major priority has been to ensure that individuals, families and businesses are supported through this difficult period," she added.
She also thanked companies that returned or donated the financial support received to charity, so that it could be put to better use.
Thirty-two companies have returned $35 million worth of JSS payouts to the Government, while others are donating the funds.
Making up the rest of the disbursements are $2.5 billion in property and corporate income tax rebates as well as foreign worker levy waivers and rebates; and $2 billion to individuals and households, which includes the Solidarity Payment of $600 to all adult Singaporeans, goods and services tax vouchers, and service and conservancy charges rebates.
About $200 million was also given out to around 450,000 Singaporeans under the Temporary Relief Fund. This is a one-off cash payment of $500 to those needing immediate financial help because of Covid-19.
Ms Indranee said another $300 million will be paid out in May for the first tranche of the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme. This will benefit more than 100,000 self-employed people.
While disbursing $16 billion in the space of less than three months is unprecedented, it is necessary to help cushion the impact of Covid-19, she added.
"This has been possible due to prudent management of public finances and the strength of our reserves, which have been judiciously and painstakingly built up over the years for a time such as this," she said.
The combined Budgets are expected to draw a historic $21 billion from Singapore's past reserves.
When the circuit breaker ends on June 1, Singapore will be emerging into a changed world, she added.
"While some of what was done in the past will continue, the way we live and work will inevitably have to change. We will all have to adjust and adapt. The Government will provide the necessary support to enable the transition.
"Now, more than ever, is the time for Government and people to work in partnership as we take on the challenge of rebuilding the economy and strengthening our society."