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Gov’t extends Jobs Support Scheme by seven months

·3-min read

However, the scheme will be adjusted according to the projected recovery of various sectors, as the programme draws heavily on the country’s reserve.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday announced that the government will continue supporting workers by extending the wage subsidy scheme till the first quarter of 2021.

However, the Job Support Scheme (JSS) scheme’s coverage will be reduced and adjusted according to the projected recovery of various sectors.

This comes as Singapore cannot sustain the programme at its current levels, given that it draws heavily on the country’s reserves, explained Heng, who also serves as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister.

“It draws heavily on our reserves and risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses. Some sectors are also recovering faster than others. I will therefore adjust support based on the projected recovery of the different sectors,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

With the adjustments, companies in the aerospace aviation and tourism sectors, which currently receive 75% JSS support, will get 50% in wage support in the next seven months, reported TODAY.

Firms in the built environment sector, which are receiving 75% JSS support for wages from June to August, will receive 50% wage support for two more months. Thereafter, the support will be reduced to 30% till March, which is in line with the phased resumption of construction activities.

The 50% wage support received by companies in the food services, arts and entertainment, retail, land transport as well as marine and offshore sectors, will be lowered to 30% during the extension period.

The 25% wage support by the large majority of the remaining sectors, on the other hand, will reduced to 10%.

Sectors that are managing well, like those in the financial services, biomedical sciences, information and communication technology and media, electronics, precision engineering and online retail supermarkets, will get 10% wage support till the end of 2020 and will no longer be eligible for the JSS scheme from January.

Heng urged businesses to “make full use” of the additional support to upskill and retain workers, while transforming their operations for the post-COVID-19 world.

For companies that are coping well, he encouraged them to donate or return their JSS payouts. In fact, nearly 600 companies have already done so.

Aside from the enhanced wage support, Heng also unveiled a $1 billion programme to subsidise the new local hires’ salaries for a year.

An extra $187 million will also be set aside for the aviation industry, while $320 million will be allocated for domestic tourism vouchers, which can be used by Singaporeans to support the tourism industry.

Heng revealed that this round of new measures will cost the government a total of $8 billion. However, the amount will not be drawn on past reserves. Instead, they will be financed by reallocating monies from other areas like development expenditures delayed due to COVID-19, he said.

Desmond Sim, Head of Research for Southeast Asia at CBRE, said the measures are “timely and more equitable as they provide a forward-looking reassurance”.

“As recovery is uneven across sectors, a more sector-specific approach to provide varying degrees of targeted relief measures may be more appropriate than continuing with massive broad-based support,” he said.

“For example, support was scaled back more for sectors showing a strong rebound, such as retail or food and beverage. On the other hand, it was boosted for weaker sectors such as aerospace, aviation and tourism.”

He noted that while the government is tapering off support, it did not entirely cut them off as it could stall the economic growth momentum.

“Overall, this set of measures will help to set expectations, as well as prepare businesses and people to deal with a post-COVID-19 environment with more targeted support,” he added.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg