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Parliamentary Replies

Extension and Utilisation of Current Business Support Schemes

05 Jul 2021
Parliamentary Question by Ms He Ting Ru:

To ask the Minister for Finance (a) whether there will be an extension of current business support schemes until the lifting of restrictions to the same levels as in Q1 2021; and (b) whether there can be more information given upfront to businesses about the types of schemes available to them including the timing of disbursements of the various schemes

To ask the Minister for Finance (a) what measures have the Government put in place to ensure that all eligible recipients of COVID-related support measures, both in 2020 and 2021, are aware of and have applied for the support schemes; and (b) what has been done to ensure that business owners and individuals across all levels of digital literacy are able to easily apply for such schemes.

Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong:

Further support measures
The Government remains committed to support our businesses and citizens through this pandemic. 

Since the start of the pandemic last year, we have disbursed more than $26.7 billion of Jobs Support Scheme to help our firms to retain their local employees. We further provided over $1.8 billion to more than 200,000 self-employed workers under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS). Various financing schemes, such as the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, have also helped over 25,000 firms secure loans worth a combined total of more than $22 billion.  

In the recent Phase 2 and Phase 3 (Heightened Alert), we are providing targeted support to sectors more significantly affected by the tightened measures. 

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and calibrate our support for our businesses and our people accordingly. As our economy recovers, we will also have to adjust our relief support while providing substantial support for companies to transform and create good jobs. This includes measures like the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, as well as the Jobs Growth Incentive.

As COVID-19 will be with us for some time, businesses should also continue to find ways to adapt and adjust to this new normal, and strengthen the resilience of their plans and processes. 

Ensuring beneficiaries receive support

Ms He Ting Ru also asked if we can give businesses more information on the schemes available and how we ensure that eligible recipients are aware of and receive the necessary support. 

First, where appropriate and feasible, we design our schemes such that benefits are computed and disbursed automatically.  Examples include major support schemes like the Jobs Support Scheme and the Jobs Growth Incentive. This ensures our target beneficiaries receive the necessary support quickly, and minimises the need for applications.

There are other schemes which are on an application basis, so as to better meet the specific needs of the company, or to obtain more real-time data for assessment. This include business transformation grants and loans.

Second, whether it is broad-based automatic disbursement or application-based grants, we adopt various channels to maximise outreach and awareness. 

a) Our agencies issue press releases, infographics and social media posts that provide key details of each scheme, including eligibility criteria, benefits and application processes. Details of support measures are also accessible through agencies’ websites. 

b) In addition, collaterals are disseminated to our partners like Trade Associations & Chambers, and the labour unions, so that they can help to spread the word to businesses and the community.

c) We have also developed interactive digital navigators such as the SupportGoWhere and GoBusiness portals, to allow businesses and individuals to self-assess their eligibility and apply for schemes.

d) For those who require more assistance with their application process, the Government also provides additional support.  Businesses may approach any of the 12 SME centres across Singapore for dedicated advice on what schemes which would best suit their needs.

For groups who may not be as digitally-savvy, we make an extra effort to reach out to them through non-digital means.

a) For instance, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and National Environment Agency (NEA) actively stepped up their outreach to taxi drivers, hawkers and market stall holders.

b) Posters in our four official languages were also put up at common community areas such as town councils and community centres, and on digital displays at HDB lift lobbies. 

I encourage members of this House who have not done do, to help amplify our efforts by sharing information on the relevant schemes with your constituents.