Over 90 per cent of excess Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts totalling about $370 million will be recovered by the Government through automatic deductions from upcoming JSS payouts, or returned by larger firms which have pledged to do so.
This was revealed by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in a joint statement yesterday, following their announcement that some firms had received an excess of around $370 million in total in wage support due to errors.
Affected businesses will be notified via letters and e-mail, and businesses may log in at this website - https://go.gov.sg/reopeningdate - from tomorrow to check if they are affected.
The remaining 10 per cent or so of excess payouts, amounting to about $30 million, will be recovered from more than 1,000 firms in cash by the end of the year. Instalment payment arrangements will also be available for businesses that need them.
Exceptional cases - such as if a firm is facing cash flow issues - will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and such firms could be given more time to repay the amounts.
For companies whose excess payouts will be automatically deducted from future JSS payouts, MTI, MOF and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) will inform them of any outstanding excess amount to be returned after their final JSS payouts, the ministries added.
Meanwhile, about 100 larger firms contacted by MTI and other agencies have committed to returning $200 million of the excess JSS payouts, while about $140 million will be recovered from other affected firms through automatic offsets from subsequent JSS payouts.
Businesses that wish to return the outstanding excess amount upfront may do so through Iras. Instructions will be included in letters sent out to the affected businesses.
UOB and security firm Aetos Holdings were among the companies that discovered discrepancies in the JSS payout for Octo-ber in November, and alerted the authorities.
"We immediately set aside the excess funds to be returned in full, pending their investigations. We are reassured that a convenient process has been set up for companies to return the excess JSS funds," said Mr Dean Tong, head of group human resources at UOB.
Mr Paul Rachmadi, deputy chief executive of Security and Risk Solutions, a security agency, was told yesterday that his firm is among those which had received excess JSS payments.
How the error occurred
JUNE AND JULY 2020
After the circuit breaker, foreign worker levy waivers and rebates were generally granted to businesses only until they were permitted to resume on-site operations.
About $1.2 million in extra foreign worker levy waivers and rebates were granted to 360 businesses in June and July due to errors in the business reopening dates used to determine the waivers and rebates, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.
Under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), $5.9 billion was paid out to employers from Oct 29 - the third round of payouts last year. October's JSS payment went towards supporting wages paid to local workers from June to August.
Firms in the tourism as well as construction, marine and process sectors were allowed to reopen only after getting approval from MTI, and their approved reopening dates were then used to compute the JSS amounts and foreign worker levy waiver and rebates.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) detected anomalies in the JSS payouts as part of its regular checks. Subsequently, several businesses told Iras that they might have received excess JSS payouts.
The cause of the overpayments was subsequently traced to discrepancies in the reopening dates of companies.
Businesses affected included companies supporting projects in the construction, marine and process sectors, which were tagged with the reopening date of the project, even though they were already permitted to reopen earlier.
They were mistakenly deemed to have been closed for a longer period of time and thus allocated a higher JSS payout.
The March JSS payouts for about 5,500 employers were delayed until end-April, pending checks by the MTI on the companies' reopening dates used to compute JSS payouts.
He does not know how much he has to return yet, but said he is not too worried or concerned about the error.
"We have always been financially prudent, so we should have enough cash to return the money if this is required, and there are also various schemes like instalment plans that we can make use of as well," he said.
Businesses with additional queries may write in via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org