Coronavirus pandemic

DPM Heng heartened by firms that return, donate wage subsidy payouts

Meanwhile, 29 companies that received last month’s payout have also decided to decline future payouts. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Thirty-two companies have returned their Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts and will turn down future payouts under the scheme, while others have pledged to donate the money to charity instead.

They include multinational firms, financial institutions and local enterprises across different sectors, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who added that he was heartened by their action.

"I am very encouraged by their sense of responsibility and shared community," Mr Heng said in a Facebook post yesterday. "I hope their exemplary action will inspire other companies that are doing well to consider doing the same."

Another 29 companies who received last month's JSS payouts have also decided to turn down future payments, said the Finance Ministry in a separate statement.

It added that it has received $35 million from companies returning their payouts so far. The money will be used to fund future payments under the scheme.

A total of $7 billion, which will go to more than 140,000 employers, was set aside under the JSS to help cover a portion of the wages of over 1.9 million local employees.

The wage subsidies are intended to save jobs amid enhanced safe distancing measures which require most workers to telecommute and those in non-essential services to temporarily cease operations to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

One company which is giving away most of its JSS payout is German pharmaceutical group Boehringer Ingelheim. It will donate $500,000 to five causes its employees voted for - the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund, Sayang Sayang Fund, Invictus Fund, Singapore Red Cross and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The donation makes up the majority of its JSS payout, said Mr Gerrard McKenna, Boehringer Ingelheim's country managing director and head of human pharma for the South-east Asia and South Korea regional operating unit.

"At this point in time, in contrast to other industries, like aviation and tourism, our company in Singapore has not been financially adversely affected," Mr McKenna said. "We only just reached out to all beneficiaries last week, and all responses have been positive."

Another company that has decided to donate its JSS payout is DSM, which sells nutritional products.

"Regarding any government support coming our way, we are... very clear about our moral deliverable," said DSM Asia-Pacific president Pieter Nuboer. "It is to redirect these funds to those most in need."

Mr Heng thanked companies for their commitment, contributions and confidence in Singapore.

"By standing together and helping one another, we can overcome this crisis and emerge stronger," he said. "This is the spirit of our Singapore Together movement."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2020, with the headline DPM Heng heartened by firms that return, donate wage subsidy payouts. Subscribe