Firms and families to get $9b in support package payouts in April , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Firms and families to get $9b in support package payouts in April

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DPM Heng urges companies to use support packages to retain workers and S'poreans to make best use of money to ride through this period

About $9 billion in support measures will be rolled out to families and businesses this month, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

This includes a one-off payout of $600 which nine in 10 Singaporean adults will receive tomorrow through their bank accounts.

The rest can provide the government with their bank details and get the money by April 28, or receive this "Solidarity Payment" by cheque from April 30 onward.

In a radio interview with CNA938, Mr Heng said he fully understood the difficulties facing businesses beset by the coronavirus pandemic, but urged them to use the Government's support packages to retain their workers.

He recapped the measures under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets - three support packages which, when combined, amount to a $59.9 billion war chest against Covid-19.

Businesses hit by the pandemic's economic fallout, and more recently by strict circuit breaker measures, have called on the Government to provide more help sooner, as have trade associations and MPs representing them.

Mr Heng noted that all firms will get 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of each local worker's monthly wages subsidised by the Government for this month, under the Jobs Support Scheme.

"This is a very significant support and I hope that businesses do their part in keeping their workers, retaining them, so that we can emerge stronger after this."

The Government is also looking at "various indicators" to see how much more might be needed from past reserves, he added.

But he urged Singaporeans to focus on how to make the best use of the amounts already allocated to ride through this difficult period.

Some of the measures already announced will go on for several more months, he noted, with some till the end of the year.

"After this month, we will then consider what else needs to be done, and we will look at what the measures are," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

For now, containing the spread of the virus is the top priority, he said. Singapore confirmed 233 coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the total to 2,532.

"Enhanced distancing measures may be inconvenient, but it is far more important to protect one another, and bear with the inconvenience," said Mr Heng.


Mr Heng also addressed rising cases of Covid-19 at foreign worker dormitories.

There were 207 cases linked to work permit holders and dormitory residents yesterday, and three new clusters at dormitories, bringing the total number of such clusters to 14.

A joint task force headed by Chief Guards Officer Brigadier-General Seet Uei Lim is now in place, he said, to tackle issues like hygiene, cleanliness and reducing the concentration of workers.

In the longer run, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has said Singapore will have to look at what else needs to be done to take care of foreign workers, he noted, urging employers to work with the government in doing so.

One thing that Covid-19 will change fundamentally is attitudes toward managing risk, Mr Heng said.

"This episode reminds us that risk is always present, and we need to manage this risk well," he added.

"We need a good risk management system, and we need to take it seriously. We need to prepare for it, so that we can be very resilient, even when crisis strikes."