SINGAPORE - Wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended by up to six months to help businesses that remain badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic to retain workers, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday (Feb 16).
The subsidies - which range from 10 per cent to 30 per cent - will cover wages paid from April to September for firms in sectors worst hit by the crisis: aviation, aerospace and tourism.
For firms in other industries that have been hit hard, including food services, retail, marine and offshore, as well as arts and entertainment, the extension will be from April till June.
The new tranche of wage subsidies, which will cost the Government $700 million, will offer targeted support towards sectors that continue to be hard-hit, Mr Heng said in his Budget speech.
Under the scheme, the Government pays a portion of employees' wages. This is widely seen as the biggest lifeline for businesses and workers amid the pandemic.
The tiered subsidies apply to the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or permanent resident employee.
With the new extension, firms in sectors that need the most support - aerospace, aviation and tourism - will receive 30 per cent of wages paid from April to June in September. They will also receive 10 per cent of wages paid from July to September in December.
Those in the next tier, which includes food services, retail, marine and offshore, as well as arts and entertainment, will receive 10 per cent of wages paid from April to June. They will receive this payout in September.
Mr Heng said: "Even as our economy recovers gradually and some sectors grow well, some other sectors remain stressed. I will tailor support to maintain resilience and support growing areas."
He added that over $25 billion has been committed to the JSS, which has supported over 150,000 employers for up to 17 months.
The scheme, which was first introduced in the Budget in February 2020, had subsidised between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of wages paid for 10 months.
It was to cover wages paid until August that year, with the final payout in last October, but this was extended to offer additional payouts - between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of wages - in March and June this year for relevant firms.
Mr Heng noted that the pandemic continues to affect many of Singapore's workers and businesses, and the JSS was introduced with a "clear goal" to protect jobs and help firms retain local workers.
As things got better for Singapore, the support was tapered for sectors that were recovering well, and those harder-hit received more help.
Mr Heng noted that the current tranche of subsidies will continue to cover wages up to March for most sectors, and said that he was encouraged to see companies taking the initiative to upskill their workers.
"I am heartened that many employers have managed to retain and reskill their workers," he said.
Employers can refer to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's JSS website for more details on the computation and payment schedule.