Businesses call for rental relief and support amid tightened measures
Describing current situation as 'dire straits', several associations make collective appeal for help
The Alliance of Frontline Business Trade Associations has sent a plea for help ahead of Singapore's return to phase two (heightened alert) today, following the surge in Covid-19 cases linked to the KTV and Jurong Fishery Port clusters.
Addressing the situation as "dire straits", the alliance, which represents the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises, Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Retailers Association, and Singapore Tenants United for Fairness (SGTUFF), made an appeal to landlords yesterday to provide rental rebates in keeping with the impact on revenue after the tighter restrictions are imposed.
It is also seeking additional wage support from the Government to help them keep as many jobs as possible and has asked for bank loan principal moratoriums to be extended to June next year.
The current tighter measures will be effective until Aug 18.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced a new package of targeted support measures for affected businesses and workers , which will take reference from the support provided in the previous phase two (heightened alert) period. More details on the support package will be shared by the Ministry of Finance in the next few days.
Describing the past 16 months as "a roller-coaster pandemic crisis", president of RAS Andrew Kwan said: "Businesses that have managed to survive thus far are burdened by the loss of revenue and their ability to sustain jobs and afford rentals, the two largest cost components of businesses in retail, food and beverage, and services."
He added: "If the industry is left to its own devices, I think the reading is that many would face a shutdown, and that would not be good overall because not only does the company go down, it takes along with it all the employees as well."
In response to The New Paper's queries, SGTUFF chairman Terence Yow said the shop closure rate is estimated to be around 10 per cent to 20 per cent since the pandemic, affecting mostly "micro and nano front-line businesses".
Mr Yow added: "We estimate another 10 per cent to 20 per cent could easily fall under if we don't get significant help on the three areas we have called out."
Mr Dellen Soh, chairman and chief executive of Minor Food Singapore, urged landlords to step up and extend help.
His company operates 59 food and beverage outlets under 13 brands in Singapore and he said when dining in was banned during the circuit breaker last year and the heightened alert period earlier this year, sales at most of the outlets dropped to 25 per cent of their usual revenue.
He is preparing for the unfortunate scenario where some of his employees would have to go on no-pay leave, if the no dining-in rule remains until Aug 18.
"When dining in is allowed, even at two pax, our sales will be able to go up to about 50 per cent," he said.
"Then, together with the landlords' support, I think we can all be united as one to push through this period."