SINGAPORE (Mar 26): More help will be given to companies and employees feeling the weight of Covid-19 as the government introduces more measures to save jobs, support workers and protect livelihoods.

Announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday, the Resilience Budget will see the government enhancing and extending the Jobs Support Scheme, which was first introduced in his Budget speech on Feb 18.

The total support will now amount to $15.1 billion for over 1.9 million employees.

As the coronavirus outbreaks worsens, the government will now raise its co-funding of wages for local workers to 25%, from the 8% announced previously.

The qualifying monthly wage ceiling was also raised from $3,600 to $4,600 – the median wage in Singapore.

Additional support will also be rendered to the sectors that have been hit the hardest.

The aviation and tourism sectors will have 75% of wages supported, while food services will get 50% in co-funding of wages.

At this level, the support is more than twice that provided during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, notes Heng.

He is now looking to protect self-employed workers through a $1.2 billion Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, where eligible persons will receive a $1,000 payout monthly for nine months.

There will also be an extension to the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme until the end of this year. This is so that these individuals can make the most of this time to train and upskill, says Heng.

To incentivize this, he is enhancing the hourly training payout from $7.50 to $10. This $1.2 billion initiative is “on top of the already generous training subsidies, which cover up to 90% of fees,” he adds.

Heng also doled out other initiatives such as a special payment to low-income Singaporeans as well as programmes guiding job seekers, especially the young on the brink of graduation.

“Our immediate priority is to save jobs, support our workers and protect livelihoods. Over one third of our Resilience Budget is dedicated to this,” notes Heng.

“Even then, we cannot prevent an economic recession as the external health and the economic situation will evolve beyond our control. But, it will help us mitigate the extent of the downturn, and more importantly, help save jobs and protect livelihoods,” he adds.