SINGAPORE, Oct 5 — A number of Covid-19 support measures that have been rolled out this year will be extended to tide individuals and businesses through the ongoing pandemic.
They include the Enhanced Training Support Package, the Jobs Growth Incentive and the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme.
The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during his ministerial statement in Parliament today.
Enhanced training support package
The Government will extend the Enhanced Training Support Package for another six months until June 30, 2021.
This will provide firms in the sectors that have been hardest hit by Covid-19 with enhanced course fee subsidies, Heng said.
From today, the marine and offshore sector will also be eligible for enhanced course fee subsidies.
At the moment, the air transport, retail and tourism sectors are among seven sectors that are eligible.
Heng said that in recognition of the gradually recovering economic situation, the Government will also be lowering the absentee payroll rates to 80 per cent from January next year, capped at S$7.50 an hour.
The absentee payroll funding is a grant to help employers defray manpower costs that are incurred when their employees go for skills training during working hours.
“For the hardest-hit sectors such as aviation and tourism, which face an uncertain road to recovery, our aim is to help companies preserve core capabilities and enable workers to retain specialised skills,” he said.
Jobs growth incentive
The Jobs Growth Incentive will be extended to support persons with disabilities who may face greater challenges in finding jobs, Heng said.
The Government will subsidise 50 per cent of wages under the scheme for all persons with disabilities.
This will apply to new hires from September this year to February next year.
Encouraging businesses to transform
To help businesses looking to internationalise, transform and digitalise, the Government will extend the following four grants:
● The Market Readiness Assistance Grant, which provides companies looking to expand their business overseas with overseas market set-up support, among other things
● The Productivity Solutions Grant, which helps companies with the adoption of technological solutions
● The Enterprise Development Grant, which provides added support to companies that are undergoing business upgrading, innovation and internationalisation
● The Pact programme, which encourages mutually beneficial collaborations between companies
“These will enable firms to tap new sources of growth,” Heng said, adding that the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) will provide more details on these various grants at a later date.
The Government will also continue to provide working capital support to viable businesses.
The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme, for example, will be extended for six months until September next year, but at reduced levels. It provides businesses with access to working capital for operation needs and eligible enterprises may borrow up to S$5 million with interest rate capped at 5 per cent per annum from participating financial institutions.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will also extend the MAS Singapore Dollar Facility for Enterprise Singapore’s loans until September next year.
At the same time, the Enterprise Financing Scheme will be adjusted. This scheme aims to help Singapore enterprises access financing in areas such as trade and project needs.
More details will be announced by MTI and MAS, he added.
Supporting workers through ‘good jobs’
Heng said all the support measures that have been announced will “ultimately benefit our workers”.
“The best way to protect the welfare of our workers is a good job,” he said. “By helping viable firms stay afloat during this period, they can retain their workers.”
He added that more competitive and productive firms can provide better jobs and better prospects for workers.
Similarly, more skilled and committed workers make firms more competitive. “This synergy between competitive firms and capable workers is critical for both to do well,” he said. — TODAY