During the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore experienced an overall decline of 60% in consumer spending. Most of the businesses had to suspend many, if not all, of their operations because of the tightened “safe-distancing-measures” and the business travels towards the country underwent major restrictions. All the above could have led to a significant spike in unemployment.
To prevent this, the Singapore government has come up with a wide range of support schemes, grants, reliefs and subsidies to help businesses navigate these uncertain times. Singapore has been praised to have provided one of the world’s most successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The supporting measures reinforced in 2021 include, among others, rental relief to support retail businesses operating in commercial malls. In May 2021, the Ministry of Finance announced that an additional Rental Relief will be offered to small and medium-sized enterprises as well as non-profit organizations with an annual revenue of not more than $100 million that are tenants of qualifying commercial properties.
The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) was first introduced in the Unity Budget in February 2020. Under JSS, the government co-funds a proportion of the first SGD 4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee up to September 2021. Jobs Support Scheme pay-outs are intended to offset local employees’ wages and protect jobs.
In 2020, the Jobs Support Scheme pay-outs amounted to a cost of SGD 1.3 billion for the government.
In the first period of JSS, the government co-funded 25% to 75% of the first SGD 4,600 of gross monthly wages, depending on the sector in which the employer operates. In the following pay-outs, the amount of support has decreased, always depending on the sector.
Enhancements to JSS
With some sectors facing additional weeks of closure up till the end of June 2021, the current enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) have been extended for affected businesses such as food establishments, education centers and sport facilities.
Over 140,000 employers have benefitted from wage support totaling SGD 4 billion that have been disbursed from 28 May, as part of the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).
From May 16th to June 20th 2021, the government provides enhanced Jobs Support Scheme support for various sectors: