Singapore said it will support companies that hire new local workers in the next six months under a program that’s aimed at boosting the domestic workforce during the pandemic.

The government plans to disburse $1 billion to encourage companies to “bring forward their hiring plans,” the manpower ministry said in a statement on Friday. The jobs must pay a gross monthly wage of at least S$1,400, and a company’s incentive will be reduced if existing employees leave, it said.

Eligible companies under Jobs Growth Incentive program will receive wage support of as much as to $15,000 for each local hire under 40 years old and $30,000 for older workers. The government will pay 25% of the first S$5,000 of monthly salaries for those under 40 for a year, and 50% for those over that age, it said.

Singapore has drawn on reserves equivalent to more than 20 years of past budget surpluses to combat the blow from the pandemic. The government last month announced additional support measures of $8 billion -- including the $1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive program -- to help businesses and workers, adding to some $93 billion in earlier pledges of aid for the economy.

See: Singapore doles out another $8 billion in fight against Covid-19: DPM Heng and $8 bil support will cushion extent of job losses, but may still not be enough, economists say

The topic of local employment has been in focus recently, with Singapore authorities making several moves to support domestic talent and curb the amount of foreign employees on its shores. Last month, the government announced an increase in the minimum salaries for some foreign pass holders, which could make it tougher for companies to hire overseas workers over Singaporean applicants.

The country is facing the worst recession in its history amid the coronavirus pandemic. Singapore’s unemployment rate rose to 2.9% in the second quarter, the highest since a decade ago during the global financial crisis.