Singapore’s government announced additional measures to sustain employment and provide supplemental income to low-wage earners and the jobless during a COVID-19 crisis it said could last for a year or more.
The coronavirus situation “now calls for bolder and more aggressive moves to save jobs and keep workers in employment,” Heng Swee Keat, deputy prime minister of Singapore, said as he announced the government’s “resilience budget.”
Among the steps unveiled Thursday was a strengthening of a jobs support scheme previously announced as a three-month program under which the government would “co-fund” 8% of local workers’ wages. The government will now co-fund 25% of local workers’ wages through December, and an even higher 50% to 75% of wages in the worst-hit industries including air transport, tourism and food services. Workers earning up to S$4,600 ($3,174) a month will qualify.
The resilience budget also provides support for the self-employed. Under a newly established Self-Employed Person Income Relief scheme, eligible self-employed persons can receive S$1,000 cash every month for nine months and will get an automatic deferment of income tax payments for three months.
The resilience budget also provides for low-income workers through an existing workfare income supplement scheme, providing recipients with a one-off cash payment of S$3,000.
Meanwhile, lower and middle-income workers who lose their jobs because of COVID-19 will be eligible for COVID-19 support grants of S$800 a month for three months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to take at least a year to be resolved, and the economic repercussions would last even longer,” Mr. Heng said.