Over $5.5b to be paid out in jobs support from Oct 29

This article is more than 12 months old

More than 140,000 employers will get help paying the wages of about 1.9 million local employees

To help firms retain their workers amid Singapore's worst recession since independence, over $5.5 billion will be paid out to more than 140,000 employers under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) from Oct 29.

It will help businesses pay the wages of about 1.9 million local employees, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday in a joint statement with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

This is the third round of payouts this year, bringing the total amount disbursed under the scheme to over $21.5 billion. The next payout is due in March.

Introduced in the first Budget support package in February and enhanced in successive packages, the wage subsidy applies to the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or permanent resident employee.

The scheme was recently extended to cover wages paid up to March next year for firms in harder-hit sectors, and up to December this year for sectors that are managing well.

Posting on Facebook yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat urged all employers to do their best to retain their workers during this difficult period.

"Jobs remain a key priority as we continue to support our workers and businesses through this crisis," he said. "For businesses that continue to grow, we also have the Jobs Growth Incentive to encourage the hiring of local workers, especially those in their middle age."

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said in August that retrenchments will be inevitable despite the Government's best efforts.

His latest post also comes on the back of the National Wages Council last week giving employers the go-ahead to implement temporary wage cuts, if it means saving jobs. It advised them to make only the reductions that were necessary to minimise retrenchments.

MOF and Iras said yesterday that this month's JSS payment goes towards supporting wages paid to local workers from June to August, with employers in the aviation, tourism and built environment sectors getting the top tier of 75 per cent support.

Firms in industries that were not allowed to resume on-site operations after the circuit breaker, which ended on June 1, will have their support levels topped up to 75 per cent for the period that they were not allowed to resume operations.

Mr Lim Chee Kean, chief executive of Internet of Things solutions provider Ascent Solutions, said: "JSS offered us support to retain critical jobs, as employees were unable to travel to undertake international projects."

Singapore Business Federation chief executive Ho Meng Kit said that due to ongoing travel restrictions, more support, such as an extension of the JSS beyond March next year, may be needed to keep businesses in the aviation and tourism sectors afloat.

"Conversely... businesses in sectors such as F&B and retail may recover at a faster pace when domestic demand picks up as more economic activities resume. Likewise, manufacturing may also see optimistic signs as global demand gradually recovers," he said.