Singapore govt to provide 75pc wage offsets for aviation firms, wide-ranging relief measures for sectors hit hard by Covid-19

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that Covid-19 is the single biggest shock that air hubs and airlines around the world have ever experienced. — Reuters pic
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that Covid-19 is the single biggest shock that air hubs and airlines around the world have ever experienced. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, March 27 — For every Singapore worker they employ, aviation companies will receive a 75 per cent wage offset for the first S$4,600 (RM14,000) of monthly wages, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

He was announcing a package of relief measures to help companies in particularly hard-hit sectors tide through the Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking in Parliament, Heng, who is also Finance Minister, also said that there will be a S$350 million Enhanced Aviation Support Package, which includes rebates on landing and parking charge and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will allow Singapore carriers and the airport operator to partially or fully defer payment of certain fees due to the authority between April 1 this year and March 31 next year, to help ease their cash flow.

“Covid-19 is the single biggest shock that air hubs and airlines around the world have ever experienced. This will have a profound impact on the global aviation sector for years to come,” Heng said.

“If the aviation industry collapses in a crisis, it will be very hard to rebuild, and the recovery of the rest of the economy will be impeded.”

Heng also announced measures to support other sectors that have been badly affected by the pandemic, such as tourism, food-and-beverage, land transport, maritime and the arts.

Tourism sector

  • Licensed hotels, travel agencies, tourist attractions, cruise terminals and operators, and purpose-built meeting, incentive, conferencing and exhibition (Mice) venue operators will receive a wage offset of 75 per cent for the first S$4,600 of their Singapore employees’ monthly wages.
  • The payouts from the wage offsets will be made in May, July and October.
  • An extra S$90 million will be set aside to help the tourism industry “when the time is right”, Heng said.

Food services

  • 50 per cent wage offset for the first S$4,600 of monthly wages earned by Singapore workers.
  • The payouts from the wage offsets will be made in May, July and October.

Land transport sector

To support taxi and private-hire car drivers, the Point-to-Point Support Package, which was created to help taxi and private-hire car drivers affected by the Covid-19 crisis, will be extended and enhanced by another S$95 million. 

Under this package, eligible taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers as well as their respective operators will continue to receive Special Relief Fund payments of S$300 for each vehicle monthly from May to September this year.

  • S$12 million set aside to help taxi operators defray the costs of their growing unhired fleet. The Government will work with taxi operators to pass on these savings to drivers in the form of rental reductions and waiver of early return contract breakage costs.
  • For private-hire car owners who want to leave the scene and convert their cars to normal passenger car status, there will be a one-time waiver of S$100 for the outward conversion fee from May to September this year.
  • Private bus owners will be provided with a one-year road tax rebate and a six-month waiver of parking charges at government-managed parking facilities.

Maritime sector

  • Extension of the 50 per cent port dues concession for passenger vessels to Dec 31 this year.
  • Additional 35 per cent rebate on counter rental and overnight berthing for regional ferry operators.
  • 100 per cent waiver for public licence fees for passenger terminal operators.

Arts and culture sector

This sector will receive another S$55 million in support package which includes:

  • Providing support to major companies and leading arts groups to safeguard jobs and retain capabilities in the arts ecosystem.
  • Enhancing the National Arts Council’s Capability Development Scheme for Arts to deepen skills and support professional development.
  • Establishing more digital arts platforms.

For more on the Resilience Budget, visit: tdy.sg/resiliencebudget. — TODAY

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