BANGKOK – Singapore presented on Monday a SG$5.1 billion ($3.55 billion) budget aimed at supporting employees and companies affected by the standstill in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during his address to parliament a wide range of economic measures dubbed the “Solidarity Budget.”
This is the third round of budget measures to be announced by the Singaporean government since the start of the outbreak.
The minister stressed that the government had set aside a total of SG$59.9 billion or 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product to combat the impact of the outbreak.
“The primary aim of this Solidarity Budget is to take further steps to save jobs and protect the livelihoods of our people during this temporary period of heightened measures,” Heng said in his televised address.
The latest package aims to help those affected by the halt in operations of all non-essential businesses starting April 7 until May 4 in the country, which has already registered 1,309 coronavirus infections and six deaths.
Among the measures is a cash payout of SG$600 to all citizens above the age of 21 years as well as additional aid to families in need or those with more children.
Also included is an extension on rental waivers, broadened support for the self-employed persons (SEPs) to include more SEPs in the SEP Income Relief Scheme announced in the “Resilience Budget” on March 26.
The measures also include an enhancement to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) announced in the “Unity Budget” on Feb. 18, to provide wage support to companies.
Under this, the government will pay 75 percent of the first SG$4,600 of monthly salaries of all local employees for the month of April while the first JSS payout will be brought forward from May to April.
On April 3, the country announced additional safe distancing measures in workplaces from April 7 to May 4 to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the country.
All business, social or any other activity that cannot be conducted via telecommuting will be suspended during the above mentioned period, while essential services including supermarkets and delivery services, food suppliers and energy manufacturers will remain operational with employees adopting strict safe distancing practices.