B. Relief For Recovery

 

B. Relief For Recovery

    COVID-19 Resilience Package

    1. B1. Let me first focus on our immediate tasks. The global economy is projected to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels this year, but the recovery is uneven across countries and sectors.2 The Singapore economy is projected to grow between 4% and 6%, with some sectors growing well, and others remaining under stress.
    2. B2. I will set aside $11 billion for a COVID-19 Resilience Package. This Package will have three prongs:
      1. a. First, to address our immediate needs to safeguard public health and re-open safely;
      2. b. Second, to support workers and businesses where needed; and
      3. c. Third, to target support for sectors that are still under stress. (See Annex B-1.)
    3. Public Health and Safe Re-Opening

    4. B3. The first prong is to safeguard the health of Singaporeans.
    5. B4. Vaccinating our people is key.
      1. a. We started our vaccination programme last year. As at 14 February this year, close to 250,000 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, of which about 55,000 have also received their second dose.
      2. b. I strongly encourage Singaporeans and residents who are medically eligible to take the vaccine when your turn comes.
    6. B5. At the same time, we must continue to contain the spread of the virus, by keeping up our precautionary measures and our multi-layered defence system of contact tracing, testing, and safe distancing.
    7. B6. Altogether, I will be dedicating $4.8 billion of the COVID-19 Resilience Package towards public health and safe re-opening measures.
    8. Support for Workers and Businesses

    9. B7. The second prong of our Package is to continue support for workers and businesses where needed.
    10. B8. COVID-19 continues to affect many of our workers and businesses.
      1. a. When COVID-19 first hit, I introduced the Jobs Support Scheme, or JSS, with a clear goal to protect jobs and to help firms retain local workers.
      2. b. As the situation deteriorated in the ensuing months, I enhanced the wage support level and its duration, and brought forward the disbursement timeline.
      3. c. As the situation improved, I tapered support for sectors that were recovering well, and extended support to harder-hit sectors.
      4. d. So far, we have committed over $25 billion to the JSS, and supported over 150,000 employers for up to 17 months. The current tranche will continue to cover wages up to March 2021 for most sectors.
        1. i. I am heartened that many employers have managed to retain and reskill their workers.
    11. B9. Even as our economy recovers gradually and some sectors grow well, some other sectors remain stressed. I will tailor support to maintain resilience and support growing areas.
    12. B10. First, I will continue to provide JSS, targeted towards sectors that continue to be hard-hit.
      1. a. For firms in Tier 1 sectors – aviation, aerospace, and tourism, I will extend JSS by six months. Firms in these sectors will receive 30% support for wages paid from April to June 2021, and 10% support for wages paid from July to September 2021.
      2. b. For firms in Tier 2 sectors, such as retail, arts and culture, food services, and built environment, I will extend JSS at 10% for three months, covering wages paid up to June 2021. This excludes segments like supermarkets which are classified as Tier 3B.
      3. c. For firms in Tier 3A sectors, JSS will continue covering wages up to March 2021, as previously announced. These sectors are generally recovering.
      4. d. Nightlife establishments such as pubs, and karaoke outlets, are not yet permitted to re-open. They can apply for grants from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore to pivot to other permissible activities or wind down.
      5. e. Overall, the JSS extension will cost $700 million. (See Annex B-2.)
    13. B11. Second, to facilitate workers moving to jobs in growth areas, I will be extending specific schemes within the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, including the Jobs Growth Incentive and specific traineeship, attachment and training opportunities. I will elaborate on these later.
    14. B12. Last year, I extended the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and the enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme – Trade Loan till 30 September 2021, to ensure businesses have continued credit access. I also enhanced the Enterprise Financing Scheme to better support loans for local construction projects.
      1. a. These programmes have helped many companies in the past year, with more than 20,000 taking up over $17 billion of working capital and trade loans.
      2. b. I hope businesses will make full use of these schemes.
    15. B13. The COVID-19 Resilience Package also funds the COVID-19 Recovery Grant, which supports workers who lost their jobs or experienced significant income loss.
      1. a. The Grant has been open for applications since 18 January 2021, and more than 5,000 applications have been approved as of 15 February 2021.
    16. Support for Specific Sectors

    17. B14. The third prong of the COVID-19 Resilience Package is to provide more targeted support for the worst-hit sectors, which continue to be adversely affected in 2021. They will need help to maintain capabilities and eventually recover.
      1. a. First, for our aviation sector, the recovery in global air traffic will take some time.
        1. i. International borders remain largely closed today. As of end-January this year, total passenger movements in Changi were only about 2% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
        2. ii. To preserve core capabilities and Singapore’s strong position built up over the years, I will provide targeted support and extend cost relief for the aviation sector.
        3. iii. This will cost the Government $870 million this year.
        4. iv. I expect the aviation sector to use this lull to sustain and upgrade its capabilities, and to prepare for the recovery. I will elaborate on this later.
      2. b. In our land transport sector, taxi and private hire car drivers have been hard hit by the pandemic, and will continue to need support in 2021.
        1. i. They will be supported by the COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund, which we announced previously.
        2. ii. I have set aside $133 million for this Fund.
      3. c. The arts and culture, and sports sectors, connect our communities and weave the fabric of our society. These sectors have been deeply affected by the pandemic.
        1. i. I will extend the Arts and Culture Resilience Package and Sports Resilience Package in FY2021 to support businesses and self-employed persons in these sectors.
        2. ii. I will also enhance these packages to support capability development and sector transformation, to encourage the community to deepen skills, go digital, and transform business models. We look forward to activities resuming, with greater vibrancy.
        3. iii. I will set aside $45 million for the extension and enhancements to these packages.
        4. iv. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will announce more details on both packages.

    Footnotes

    2 International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook January 2021 Update.