The Singapore government today announced a S$48 billion “Resilience Budget” to support hard-hit businesses and employees in the city-state. In a parliamentary address, deputy prime minister and finance minister Heng Swee Keat said that this massive package is intended to “save jobs, support workers, and protect livelihoods.”
One of the most significant measures in the package is the increase in the amount of workers’ salaries that the government will co-fund. In the initial support package announced in February, Heng said that the government would fund eight percent of local employees’ salaries for three months, up to a wage cap of S$3,600. This amount has now been raised to 25 percent until the end of 2020, up to a wage cap of S$4,600. F&B companies, which are seeing a massive drop in business as Singapore tightens its restrictions on movement, will get co-funding of 50 percent. And aviation and tourism companies, the hardest hit, will get co-funding of 75 percent.
The increase in co-funding is expected to benefit some 1.9 million local employees. On top of this, if low and middle income earners should lose their jobs as a direct result of the pandemic, the government has pledged to grant them S$800 a month for three months while they upskill and search for a new job.
Self-employed workers are not left out either: for several years now Singapore’s unions and workforce assistance agencies have been trying to bring the city-state’s approximately 223,000 self-employed workers, including gig economy workers, into the social safety net that they are frequently left out of. Now, under the Resilience Budget, eligible self-employed workers will get direct cash assistance of S$1,000 a month for nine months. They will also receive additional allowances for training and upskilling.
The government is also accelerating the creation and broadcasting of immediately available short-term jobs in critical areas such as healthcare, childcare, ICT, and transport, with the objective of boosting the capacity of these sectors and providing the unemployed with a way of tiding the crisis over.