SINGAPORE, July 23 — The Government is rolling out a $1.1 billion (RM3.42 billion) support package to help businesses and individuals affected by the return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which includes enhanced support through the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).  

Announcing a slew of measures, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a press release on Friday (July 23) that in order to “ensure fair burden sharing”, it was also looking into requiring rental obligations to be shared between the Government, landlords and qualifying tenants, following feedback that not all landlords were forthcoming in providing rental reliefs. 

It added that the support package, which is in response to the return to Phase Two (Heightened Alert) from Thursday to Aug 18, will be funded by reallocating funds arising from one-off underutilisation due to Covid-19 and fiscal resources set aside earlier in the event of extension of support measures.

Wage subsidies

Businesses in sectors where tightened measures require them to suspend many, if not all, of their activities will receive 60 per cent of workers’ wage under the JSS — higher than the 50 per cent that was given out when Phase Two (Heightened Alert) was last implemented. 

These include food and beverage (F&B) businesses, gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations and arts education centres. 

For sectors that are “significantly affected” by the restrictions, JSS will be increased to 40 per cent, up from the previous 30 per cent. 

Those qualifying for this include the retail sector, affected personal care services, tourist attractions, licensed hotels, cruise and regional ferry operators, MICE organisers, travel agents, museums, art galleries, cinema operators and other family entertainment centres.

These JSS quantums will last till the end of Phase Two (Heightened Alert) on Aug 18 and wage support will then drop to 10 per cent from Aug 19 to 31, said MOF. 

Rental relief

The Government will also offset the rent for the full duration of the latest period of heightened alert for Government-owned commercial properties, and half the duration for privately-owned commercial properties.

As such, tenants on Government-owned commercial properties will get a four-week rental waiver, while tenants and owners of privately-owned commercial properties will get two weeks of rental relief cash payout.

MOF said that it is also looking to require sharing of rental obligations between the Government, landlords and tenants. The circumstances of landlords who may face genuine hardship however will be taken into consideration, it said.  

MOF added that while it had encouraged landlords of commercial properties to provide rental support to affected businesses during the last Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period, many tenants have provided feedback that not all landlords were forthcoming. 

F&B establishments and retailers banded together on July 21 to repeat their calls for more support, stating that more of them will close without assistance such as rental relief from landlords. 

The Ministry of Law will release more details on this in due course, it added.

Support for cabbies, hawkers

Taxi and private hire car drivers will get enhanced support from the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund till the end of September, in a package that will cost the Government an additional S$30 million.

Currently, drivers receive S$10 per vehicle per day in July and August and S$5 per vehicle per day in September. 

Under the latest enhancement, eligible drivers will get an additional S$10 per vehicle per day from July 22 to Aug 31, and an additional S$5 per vehicle per day in the month of September.

This comes on top of the S$40 million which the Government had already announced on June 10, and will bring the total amount set aside for taxi and private hire car sectors to S$482 million since February last year, the Land Transport Authority said in a separate press release.

Meanwhile, MOF said a new relief fund will be set up for hawkers and market stallholders. 

Under this new Market and Hawker Centre Relief Fund, all individual stallholders of cooked food and market stalls in centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA- appointed operators will receive a one-off cash assistance of S$500 per stallholder. 

This will come on top of the additional one-month of subsidies for fees for table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services, and one month of rental waivers for stallholders in hawker centres and markets managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators previously announced.

MOF said NEA will provide more details on this shortly.

Added support for the F&B sector will come in the form of a reintroduction of the food delivery booster package, which will help to defray part of the food delivery costs via food delivery platforms and third-party logistics partners for transactions made during the period, MOF said.

For those using food delivery platforms, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) will fund five percentage points for the commission cost charged for the use of food delivery platforms.

For those taking food delivery orders through third-party logistics partners, ESG will fund 20 per cent of the delivery costs.

ESG will also provide grant support for local retailers who wish to list on local e-commerce platforms. 

The support will be given through the e-commerce booster package, which was reintroduced on May 16 when the first round of Phase Two (Heightened Alert) kicked in. Under it, retailers will receive a one-time 80 per cent support on qualifying costs for the service fees charged by the platforms, capped at S$8,000.

Support for affected individuals

Other workers who are affected by the tightened measures can get help through the Covid-19 Recovery Grant-Temporary, which will be made available until Aug 31, MOF said.

The fund provides a payout of up to S$700 for those who were placed on involuntary no-pay leave and up to S$500 for those who lost at least 50 per cent of their income for at least one month due to tightened safe management measures since May 16. 

MOF added that existing recipients of the fund who continue to require assistance may apply for a second payout. — TODAY