Singapore will extend wage support for businesses next month, as it prolongs the duration of the circuit breaker measures for another month to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Under the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), the Government now subsidises 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages for 1.9 million local workers.
This support, in the initial circuit breaker month of April, will be extended through next month, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday, after the Government announced the extension of stringent restrictions on the movement of people by another four weeks until June 1.
Other existing support measures for businesses that will be extended for next month include waiving foreign worker levies and giving a $750 rebate for each Work Permit or S Pass holder they employ.
The Government will also roll out the new Covid-19 Support Grant from next month to give those who lose their jobs because of the crisis an $800 monthly grant for three months. The Ministry of Social and Family Development will give details on how to apply soon.
In all, the added support to tide Singaporeans through another four weeks of safe distancing measures will cost the Government $3.8 billion, said DPM Heng.
This adds to the $59.9 billion the Government has marshalled to fund measures to deal with the Covid-19 disease and cushion its economic impact.
Mr Heng urged employers to retain their workers and make full use of the various grants for training and upgrading corporate capabilities. "The months of April and May - this will be a test of our resilience as individuals and as a society," he said. "We cannot be certain when the crisis will end. But what is certain is that we are here for you and we will support you."
Employers who put local employees on mandatory no-pay leave or retrench them will not be able to get wage support under the enhanced JSS for the affected employees, said the Finance Ministry.
The JSS will also be enhanced to include employees who are also shareholders and directors of their companies. But to be eligible, their assessable income has to be $100,000 or less last year, and their companies must be registered on or before April 20 this year. Mr Heng said this group of people, which the ministry expects to total about 50,000, had previously not qualified for the JSS, or income relief schemes for the self-employed.