Over $5.5b to be paid out in Jobs Support Scheme from Oct 29

October's payment goes towards supporting wages paid to local workers from June to August. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Over $5.5 billion under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be paid out to more than 140,000 employers from Oct 29, to help them retain their workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This will help businesses pay the wages of some 1.9 million local employees, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Monday (Oct 19).

With this latest round of payouts, the total amount disbursed under the scheme will exceed $21.5 billion, said the ministry in a joint statement with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

The JSS was introduced in the first Budget support package by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in February, and enhanced in successive packages. The wage subsidy applies to the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or permanent resident employee.

The scheme was recently extended to cover wages paid up to March next year for firms in sectors harder hit by the Covid-19 crisis, and up to December this year for sectors which are managing well.

MOF and Iras said this month's payment goes towards supporting wages paid to local workers from June to August.

Employers in the aviation, tourism and built environment sectors will get 75 per cent support. Those in food services, retail, arts and entertainment, land transport, and marine and offshore will get 50 per cent; and those in all other sectors, 25 per cent.

Firms in industries that were not allowed to resume on-site operations after the circuit breaker, which ended on June 1, will have their support levels topped up to 75 per cent for the period that they were not allowed to resume operations.

Eligible employers will be notified by post of their payout amount, and can also log on to myTax Portal to view the electronic copy of the letter.

Those with PayNow Corporate or Giro arrangements with Iras can expect their payouts from Oct 29.

Others will receive their payouts through cheques from Nov 4, but can receive their payouts earlier if they sign up for PayNow Corporate with their banks by Oct 23.

Employers should also ensure that mandatory Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions are made based on actual wages paid, added Iras and MOF.

Posting on Facebook on Monday (Oct 19), Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, urged all employers to do their best to retain their workers during this difficult period.

"Jobs remain a key priority as we continue to support our workers and businesses through this crisis," he said.

"For businesses that continue to grow, we also have the Jobs Growth Incentive to encourage the hiring of local workers, especially those in their middle-age."

Businesses that benefited from the JSS said they were grateful for the support.

Mr Lim Chee Kean, chief executive of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider Ascent Solutions, said many of the company's overseas projects were grounded due to the pandemic. "JSS offered us support to retain critical jobs, as employees were unable to travel to undertake international projects."

He added that the scheme has also helped the company to hire more mature workers, such as a 64-year-old former general manager.

Iras and MOF also warned of severe penalties for attempts to abuse the JSS, including having the payouts denied, and being jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Those who want to report malpractices or potential abuses of the JSS can e-mail jssreport@iras.gov.sg or visit the website.

As part of the checks for JSS eligibility, a small number of employers will receive letters from Iras asking them to conduct a self-review of their CPF contributions, and to provide declarations or documents to substantiate their eligibility for JSS payouts.

Their payouts for this month will be withheld in the meantime, but will be paid out after Iras has reviewed and verified the information.

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