Solidarity Budget 2020

Singapore’s Solidarity Budget was presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Swee Keat in Parliament on Mon, 6 Apr 2020.

The Solidarity Budget complements and enhances measures introduced under Budget 2020 on 18 Feb 2020 and the subsequent supplementary Resilience Budget on 26 Mar 2020, and aims to address the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Singapore’s economy and society.

Solidarity Budget 2020

As stated by the Ministry of Finance, the primary aim of the Solidarity Budget is to take further steps to save jobs and protect livelihoods during this temporary period of heightened measures

The solidarity budget enhances most of the measured introduced in the previous budgets to further help businesses to address cash flows issues, retain their employee and be ready to resume activities when the circuit breaker is lifted.

The main measures released are:

  • Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme
  • Further Measures to Ease Foreign Labour Costs
  • Further Support for Rental Costs
  • Enhanced Financing Support
  • Enhanced Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)
  • Enhanced Support for Households

 As of now, for the purpose of this article, we will only focus on the first 3 measures that we believe will have a greater and direct impact on our clients’ business and operation.

1. Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme

The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will help enterprises retain their local employees during this period of uncertainty. It is a temporary scheme for 2020. All active employers, except for Government organizations (local and foreign) and representative offices, are eligible for the JSS.

After the first 2 budget releases, the Jobs Support Scheme has been enhanced, as follows:

  • A grant of 25% for the salary paid in the months of October to December 2019 and February to March 2020
  • A grant of 75% for the salary paid in the months of April and May 2020. To
  • A grant of 25% for the salary paid for the months of June and July 2020

Employers will receive three main JSS payouts in April, July, and October 2020, covering wages paid in the months shown in the table below. There will also be an additional payout in May to provide cashflow support for firms during the ‘circuit breaker’ period.

The Apr 2020 and May 2020 payouts will provide support in advance for Apr 2020 and May 2020 wages respectively. This is done in order to provide cashflow support for firms during the ‘circuit breaker’ period. These advances will first be calculated based on Oct 2019 and Nov 2019 wages respectively. The subsequent JSS payouts in Jul 2020 and Oct 2020 will be adjusted to account for actual wages paid in Apr and May 2020 and the advances given.

Please note employers do not need to apply for the JSS. The grant will be calculated and based on their CPF contribution data.

Table 1: Illustration of Jobs Support Scheme computation

Payout

Date of payment

Computation of payout

Tranche 1

Apr-20

75% of Oct 2019 wages

25% of Nov 2019 wages

25% of Dec 2019 wages

Additonal Payout in May

May-20

75% of Nov 2019 wages

Tranche 2

Jul-20

25% of Feb 2020 wages

25% of Mar 2020 wages

(75% of Apr 2020 wages - 50% of Oct 2019 wages)

Oct-20

75% of May 2020 wages - 75% of Nov 2019)

25% of Jun 2019 wages

Tranche 3

25% of July 2019 wages

 

The JSS payout will be credited to the employers' GIRO bank account used for Income Tax/GST.


For companies that do not have a GIRO accounts, the JSS payout will be paid:

  1. to their bank account registered with PayNow Corporate.
  2. via cheque


Who qualifies for the JSS

All employers who have made CPF contributions for their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) will qualify for the payout unless they are part of the employer exclusion list:

  • Local Government Agencies including Organs of State, Ministries and Departments, Statutory Boards
  • Government and Government-Aided Schools
  • PA Services and Grassroot Units
  • High Commissions, Embassies, Trade Offices, Consulate
  • Unregistered Local/Foreign Entities
  • Foreign Military Units
  • Representative offices of:
    • Foreign companies
    • Foreign Government Agencies
    • Foreign Trade Associations/ Foreign Chambers/ Foreign Non-profit Organisations
    • Foreign Law Practices
  • Bank Representative Offices/Insurance Representative Officers/Other Financial Representative Offices (registered with MAS)
  • News Bureaus (which are representative offices)
  • International Organisations
  • Entities which pay CPF but are not registered in Singapore

 

Wages paid to business owners or employers trading in their own personal capacity will not be eligible for the JSS payout. They will continue to receive the JSS payout for wages paid to their local employees.

As announced on 21 Apr 2020, the Government will extend the JSS to cover wages of employees in a company who are also shareholders and directors of the company (shareholder-directors)3. Wage support for shareholder-directors will only apply to companies registered on or before 20 April 2020, and only for the wages of shareholder-directors with Assessable Income of $100,000 or less for Year of Assessment 2019.

The May 2020 and subsequent JSS payouts will include support for qualifying shareholder-directors. The May 2020 payout will also include back-payment for companies with qualifying shareholder-directors whose wages were excluded from the first JSS payout in April 2020.

Measures to Ease foreign Labour costs

As part of the Solidarity Budget, employers are given a Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) rebate of $750 for each S Pass or Work Permit holder employed as of 29 February 2020.In addition, levies due to be paid in April 2020 have been waived. The Government will extend these measures by providing:

  • FWL rebate of $750 for each S Pass or Work Permit Holder employed as of 1 May 2020
  • Waiver of FWL due in the month of May 2020

 The FWL rebate will be processed and credited as follows:

  • Companies with PayNow Corporate accounts must acknowledge by 8 May 2020 to receive the FWL rebate on 29 May 2020; those that acknowledge by 22 May 2020 will receive the FWL rebate on 19 June 2020.
  • Companies without PayNow Corporate accounts must acknowledge by 22 May 2020 to receive the payment by cheque from 3 July 2020.

Further Support for Rental Costs

To further support businesses with costs, The Minister for Law has introduced a Bill to let businesses and individuals defer certain contractual obligations, such as paying rent, repaying loans, or completing work, for a period.This Bill will also ensure that property owners pass on the Property Tax Rebate in full, to tenants.

For most properties, the 100% Property Tax Rebate works out to slightly more than one month of rent.

The Government has also increased the rental waiver for industrial, office and agricultural tenants of Government agencies to 1 month, up from the 0.5 month’s rental waiver

 For full information, please visit the government website.

This article is intended for general information only and is not intended to apply to any specific situations or to constitute legal advice.

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