No new round of Covid-19 support measures in Monday's ministerial statement, says DPM Heng

SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will not be unveiling a new round of support measures when he makes a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday (Oct 5), but will speak about how resources will be allocated to fund the measures already announced, he said.

He reiterated this in a Facebook post on Saturday, as he noted that the announcement about the ministerial statement on Wednesday had sparked questions about whether there would be a forthcoming round of measures.

In his Facebook post, he said the main purpose of his statement will be to provide the context for the Supplementary Supply Bill that will be introduced in Parliament on Monday.

The Bill, the third such Bill to be tabled this year, will reallocate resources for the measures announced on Aug 17 to help businesses and workers tide over the economic disruption brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parliament will debate the Bill as well as these measures, which amount to some $8 billion.

Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance, said on Saturday: “At this stage of the crisis, my team and I are fully committed to support our workers and businesses by refining our policies, expanding outreach and improving implementation, to make the most of the $100 billion committed to the fight against Covid-19.”

“We hope that businesses and workers can make the best use of the measures that have been committed.”

On Friday, Mr Heng had met some small and medium-sized enterprises and also union leaders and career coaches, along with labour chief Ng Chee Meng.

Referring to these meetings, he said: “The discussions yesterday have given us a better sense of the pain points of job seekers and businesses, opportunities for collaboration in the coming months, and new ideas that we can develop for Budget next year.”

He added that the Government would work closely with businesses to help them stay viable and to keep workers employed.

The Government has committed close to $100 billion, over four Budgets and a further round of support in August, to help businesses, workers and households tide over the coronavirus crisis.

Among the key measures announced in August were adjustments to the Jobs Support Scheme, which helps employers fund up to 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee, for 10 months up to August 2020.

The measures extend wage support till March next year, tiered based on how quickly each sector is expected to recover.

Firms in the hardest-hit aerospace, aviation and tourism sectors, which were getting 75 per cent wage support, get 50 per cent wage support for seven more months.

The built environment sector will get 50 per cent support for two more months, before it is lowered to 30 per cent of wages paid up to March next year, in line with the phased resumption of construction activities.

Most other sectors will get 10 per cent support for seven more months.

However, sectors that are doing well, such as biomedical sciences, financial services, and infocommunications and technology, will get this amount of support up to December.

In addition, the Covid-19 Support Grant, introduced in May to help Singaporeans who have been laid off or have suffered significant income loss, was extended to December. To qualify, unemployed applicants must demonstrate job search or training efforts. Mr Heng had said the measures would be funded by the reallocation of monies from other areas, such as development expenditures that were delayed due to Covid-19.

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