Singapore will roll back from its circuit breaker measures from 2 June 2020. The economy and society will resume in three phases.
With that in mind, a fourth Fortitude budget amounting to $33 billion was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat today. Together with the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, Singapore is dedicating close to $100 billion (or $92.9 billion) or almost 20 per cent (19.2 per cent) of Singapore's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to battle against this pandemic. Over $16 billion has been distributed from the previous budgets.
The Unity Budget was the first delivered on Feb 18 and saw $6.4 billion set aside to support businesses, workers and families affected by the coronavirus. An additional $48.4 billion was released in a supplementary Resilience Budget. A further $5.1 billion under the Solidarity Budget was set aside to enhance several support measures. This was followed by another $3.8 billion to extend some measures for another four weeks of the circuit breaker.
The key focus of the Fortitude budget was to create jobs and build skills. Based on preliminary estimates, the resident unemployment rate rose to 3.3% in March 2020, the highest since December 2009. The Ministry of Trade and Industry also further downgraded Singapore’s GDP growth forecast from “minus 4 per cent to minus 1 per cent” to “minus 7 per cent to minus 4 per cent”.
The Budget will continue to support workers and businesses that remain affected by border closures and safe distancing measures. An additional month of Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be given to all firms. This will be computed based on the wages paid in August 2020, and firms will receive it in their October JSS payout. Firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker will continue to get 75 per cent of wage support until August or when they are allowed to reopen, whichever earlier. Payouts for those in more severely impacted sectors such as aviation and marine, will be increased from 25% to 50 or 75%.
The government aims to create 40,000 jobs by the end of 2020. These will comprise 15,000 and 25,000 jobs to be offered by the public and private sectors respectively. In addition, there will be 21,000 traineeships to help local ﬁrst-time jobseekers and 4,000 traineeships for mid-career job seekers.
The Foreign Worker Levy waiver and rebate will be extended by up to two months for businesses that will not be allowed to resume operations on site immediately after the circuit breaker is lifted. This will include all businesses in the construction, marine and offshore, and process sectors. Waiver will be 100 per cent in June and 50 per cent in July. The rebate will be $750 in June and $375 in July.
Further cash grant will be provided to offset the rental costs of Small Medium Enterprises (SME) tenants from the $2 billion grants that will be disbursed to property owners from end July. A new Bill will be introduced to mandate that landlords contribute by granting a rental waiver to SME tenants which have suffered a significant revenue drop in the past few months.
Two more months of rental waivers will also be provided for commercial tenants and hawkers. Industrial, office and agricultural tenants in government properties will be provided one more month of rental waiver.
More than $500 million will also be allocated to support businesses in their digital transformation journey as everyone work together to adapt to a new normal.