Singapore Under the New Normal

Singapore Under the New Normal

By Roshan Sageer

As the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore went into a broad lockdown by adopting multi-pronged precautionary measures under the moniker “circuit breaker” for a period of two months from April to May. During this period, the Singapore Government announced a slew of monitory reliefs and budgetary measures to sustain the economy and assist Singaporeans in coping with the impact of the pandemic.    

The implementation of circuit breaker saw most businesses, recreational and other service sectors suspending their operations with only essential services continuing to function. Most businesses quickly adapted to the new normal and embraced technology that facilitated services being provided remotely, while employees started working from home embracing online virtual communication solutions.  With extensive contact-tracing, enhanced testing capacity and a robust healthcare system and facilities, Singapore is on track to regain normalcy, steadily bringing down the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. 

But the challenge is far from over. The Singapore government announced three additional supplementary budgets (namely the Resilience Budget, the Solidarity Budget, and the Fortitude Budget) to provide a much-needed fiscal boost to the Singapore economy and to weather the immediate fallout of the corona virus outbreak. 

Given below is a summary of essential features of the budget and how they have been enhanced progressively:

HighlightsFortitude Budget

(Announced 26 May 2020)

Solidarity Budget

(Announced 06 April 2020)

Resilience Budget

(Announced 26 March 2020)

SummaryA $33 billion Supplementary Budget to provide support for businesses and workers to adapt, transform and seize new opportunities post Circuit-Breaker.A $5.1 billion budget introduced to help businesses preserve their capacity and capabilities during the circuit breaker period.A $48 billion budget introduced to tackle the 3C’s on business owners’ minds, cash flow, cost, and credit, in addition to helping specific sectors affected by Covid-19.
Job Support SchemeThe JJS was enhanced in 3 ways:

  • JSS extended for 1 more month to cover wages in August 2020, bringing the total wage support to ten months. Support for Aug 2020 will be paid out in Oct 2020.
  • Government to provide wage support at 75% until August 2020 for firms unable to resume operation post circuit breaker.
  • Aerospace, retail, marine and offshore to receive Increased support to either 50% of 75% for affected sectors.
The JSS was raised to provide 75% wage support on the first $4600 of gross monthly wages for local employees across all sectors for the month of April 2020. 

The Government to extend the 75% JSS across all sectors for another month, i.e. in the month of May 2020.

Employers set to receive a 25% cash grant of the first $4,600 of the gross monthly wages for all local employees. In addition, the monthly wage cap was raised to S$4,600 per employee.

The JSS was extended to cover nine months of wages with payment to be made in two additional tranches.

Supporting BusinessesFWL waiver and rebate extended by up to 2 months for businesses not allowed to resume operations after the circuit breaker.

$2 billion in cash grants to help SME tenants with rental costs.

Additional rental waivers for commercial and non-residential government properties.

Enhanced Hiring incentive, temporary bridging loan programme, support for e-payments and Digital Resilience Bonus schemes. 

Foreign Worker’s Levy due in April 2020 waived.

FWL rebate of $750 in April 2020.

Rental Waivers and increased government risk share from 80% to 90%.

Enhanced property tax rebate of 100% for qualifying commercial properties and 30% for non-residential properties.

Enhanced rental waivers for up to 3 months.

Eligible Singaporean Self-Employed Persons to receive $1,000 a month for 9 months.

Supporting Families & HouseholdsAdditional Covid-19 Support Grant of $800 million to assist Singaporeans/PRs who have lost their jobs.

One-off $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit for each household.

Enhanced Fund-Raising (EFR) programme with dollar-for-dollar matching to be made on eligible donations (1 April 2020- 31 March 2021).

Additional cash payout of $300 for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020.

Other payments from Resilience Budget will remain and be paid out in June 2020.

Total of up to $1,000 in cash for eligible Singaporeans in June 2020.

Additional cash payouts for all Singaporeans to help families with daily expenses.

Cash payment of $3,000 for Singaporean who received Workfare payments in 2019.

Greater flexibility on fees & loans including:

  • No increase in government fees and charges for 1 year (1 April 2020-31 March 2021)
  • One-year suspension of Government Student Loan repayments.
  • 3-month suspension of later HDB mortgage payment charges.

 

As Singapore enters the post- circuit breaker phase, the government has rolled out a three-phased approach to resume activities. With the start of Phase 2 starting 19 June 2020, more businesses look forward to opening their stores as retail outlets, dine-ins, and recreational activities are to resume operations.

The Helmi Talib Group has been pro-actively following the events as they happen and implementing the measures introduced by the Singapore Government to ensure the health and safety of everyone. During this time, we have made use of extensive digital systems in place to aid business continuity and ensure the delivery of service excellence that meet the needs of our clients.

In addition to encouraging the use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry Apps to assist in contact tracing, the Helmi Talib Group has initiated  constant upgrades to their digital systems including online collaboration tools such as Microsoft 365 for business and VPN systems  to keep up with changing needs and consumers demands. Enhancing employee skills using online training platforms to get them prepared and accustomed to the new normal has been a priority, so that we can meet the challenges of tomorrow with confidence. With regular communication and virtual team building activities, we have also worked towards ensuring the wellbeing and health of our employees. As the situation evolves, our commitment to meet the expectations of our clients continues to remain as strong as ever.

The world will be different after Covid-19, and that includes Singapore. Work-from-home arrangements, social distancing, and increased sanitation practices are just a few of the new changes that the people will have to get used to. Nevertheless, Singapore’s extensive budget planning has given the confidence to many that our economy will slowly be rebuilt with the support of both the government and its people.