SINGAPORE — The Singapore government on Tuesday (21 June) announced a S$1.5 billion support package to help businesses and residents cope with inflation amid rising prices.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong announced the measures during a press conference, noting that the Ukraine war had put “ tremendous stresses on global supply chains” and that protectionist measures by countries had “compounded supply chain disruptions”.
“Global energy and food prices have risen sharply and we must expect global inflation to broaden to other areas and even to pick up further before it stabilises and gets better,” he added.
While Singapore is in a “stronger position” to deal with these issues as compared to other countries, the city state has not been spared from the effects of higher prices.
Singapore's core inflation rate rose to 3.3 per cent in April on a year-on-year basis, the highest since February 2012.
“The inflation situation will eventually stabilise both globally and within Singapore. But for now, we must expect price increases to continue in the coming months. And in particular, energy prices are likely to remain elevated for the rest of the year,” he said.
Among the measures by the government are a special GST Voucher payment of $300 cash that about 1.5 million Singaporeans will receive in August.
Said Wong, “The support measures are tilted towards helping lower income and vulnerable group because they are the ones who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of inflation.”
For individuals and households:
Enhanced ComCare scheme
The ComCare Short- to Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) and Long-Term Assistance (LTA) will be enhanced permanently, with one-person households receiving higher cash assistance of $640 a month, an increase from the original $600 a month.
2. Enhancement to Singapore Allowance and monthly pension ceiling
The Singapore Allowance and monthly pension ceiling for pensioners who draw lower pensions will be enhanced by $30 each, to $350 and $1,280 respectively.
3. Households to receive $100 in utilities credit
Every Singaporean household will receive $100 in September to help offset utility bills. Households living in private property will also receive the credits.
4. GST voucher
Around 1.5 million lower income to middle income workers as well as retirees without incomes will receive $300 cash in a special GST Voucher payment in August, which is on top of the regular GSTV-Cash amounts they were meant to receive in 2022. In total, GSTV-cash recipients will get about $700 in August.
For self-employed persons
1. Cash relief for drivers
Eligible taxi main hirers and private hire car drivers will receive a one-off relief of $150 in August. Under the NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit Relief Scheme, combi bus drivers, limousine drivers, delivery drivers, and delivery motorcycle riders who are association members will receive up to $300 in cash.
For businesses and workers
Increase in co-funding support for Progressive Wage Credit scheme
The government will increase its co-funding share of eligible wage increases from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for resident employees with gross monthly wages of up to $2,500. For wages above $2,500 and up to $3,000, the co-funding will be raised from 30 per cent to 45 per cent.
2. Jobs Growth Incentive extension
The Jobs Growth Incentive will be extended for another six months until March 2023. The scheme provides support for employers to hire mature job seekers who have not been working for at least six months, as well as people with disabilities and ex-offenders.
3. New Energy Efficiency Grant
A new Energy Efficient Grant will provide local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food services, food manufacturing and retail sectors with up to 70 per cent support to adopt energy-efficient equipment in pre-approved categories.
The grant will help firms improve their energy efficiency and alleviate business costs from increasing energy prices.
4. Increased loan quantum for Enterprise Financing Scheme - Trade Loan
The maximum loan quantum will be raised from $5 million to $10 million per borrower from 1 July this year to 31 March 2023.
5. Increased loan quantum for the Enterprise Financing Scheme - SME Working Capital Loan
The maximum loan quantum will be increased from $300,000 to $500,000 per borrower from 1 October this year to 31 March next year, after the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme expires in September.
6. One-month foreign worker levy waiver for chicken slaughterhouses
The 11 chicken slaughterhouses in Singapore will receive a one-month of foreign worker levy waiver to help with the effect of Malaysia’s export ban, which took effect from 1 June.
“I know many Singaporeans are concerned about the immediate issues of rising prices and the cost of living, please understand that the challenges before us are not just about inflation, they are also about adapting to major structural changes in our operating environment – rising temperatures and climate change; increased geopolitical contestation and tensions, potentially moving into a more bifurcated and decoupled world," Wong said.
"We have to fundamentally restructure and transform ourselves for this new world, a world which is likely to be more uncertain, volatile and even more dangerous than before, and that is why we have to accelerate, not slow down our economic reforms. We have to keep on moving forward to restructure and transform ourselves. At the same time, it is also important that we move forward in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner."
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