Business Loans

Fortitude Budget: Enhanced Cash, Cost and Credit Support For SMEs Amidst Uncertainty

Jennifer Tjahyadi
May 27, 2020

The Fortitude Budget of $33 billion is the fourth budget announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on 26th May 2020 in the hope of building courage in adversity during this period of uncertainty.

Since the first budget was announced, the Singapore government has rolled out close to $100 billion (19.2% of Singapore’s GDP) to tackle the challenges of COVID-19. To help SMEs adjust post circuit breaker, the government will further strengthen support on the 3Cs – costs, cash flow and credit.


1. Cost Support

To help SMEs manage costs in these challenging times, the government has rolled out the following initiatives to defray costs:

Defer Higher CPF Contribution Rates

The government decided to defer the planned increase in CPF contribution rates for senior workers for a period of 1 year, starting from 1 January 2021 to 1 January 2022. Similarly, the CPF Transition Offset scheme will also be deferred and will only be implemented after the planned higher contribution rates are set out.


Foreign Worker Levy and Rebate

The Foreign Worker Levy has been extended for 2 months for SMEs who are not allowed to resume business on-site after the circuit breaker period. On top of that, a 100% waiver and $750 rebate will be distributed in June 2020, and a 50% waiver and $375 rebate distributed in July 2020.


Rental Reliefs For Tenants In Government And Private Non-Residential Properties

A total of $2 billion cash grant will be allocated for SME tenants in public properties. The government will offset another 2 months’ rental and 1 month’s rental for qualifying SME tenants of commercial properties and industrial and office properties respectively.

Hawker stallholders who were qualified for 3 months’ rental waiver will now get 5 months with a minimum waiver of $200 per month. As for other SMEs who are facing a huge drop in revenue, it is now mandatory for landlords to grant them rental waivers.


2. Cash Support

In terms of cash support, the government has put in place three enhancements to the Job Support Scheme (JSS):

a.  The JSS will be extended by 1 month to cover wages paid in August 2020 and will be paid out when firms receive their October 2020 JSS payouts. Employers can refer to the IRAS JSS for more details on the computation.

b.  For firms that are unable to resume operations immediately (e.g. gyms, cinemas, etc), they are able to receive wage support of 75% (for the first $4,600 of the gross monthly wages of each local employee) until August 2020 or when they re-open, whichever is earlier.

c.  More severely affected firms are eligible for higher wage support at 75% for aerospace and built environment sectors and 50% for retail and marine offshore sectors (up from 25%). 


3. Credit Support

Further credit support will also be assigned to the built environment sector, which includes construction. This will provide funding to sustain infrastructure projects, including public infrastructures such as MRT lines and public housing.

This support also applies to sectors such as aviation and tourism where recovery will not be immediate and is likely to face longer-term challenges.

4. Other Support Measures

As it is, the pandemic has redefined the way businesses operate. A McKinsey study shows that an equivalent of five years of consumer and business digital adoption emerged during the course of just eight weeks.

To build on the momentum of digital transformation and prepare businesses to face the post COVID-19 era, the government has set out E-payment support and the Digital Resilience Bonus.

Stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets and canteens will be given a bonus of $300 per month over 5 months when they adopt E-payment methods. This initiative supported by IMDA, NEA, JTC, HDB and Enterprise Singapore seeks to encourage the use of digital payment so as to avoid handling cash.

Aside from that, a Digital Resilience Bonus will be put in place to help businesses take flight to digitalize.

SMEs, especially those in the F&B and retail sectors, will be able to receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as business process or e-commerce solutions. An additional $5,000 support package will be given to F&B and retail businesses to incorporate advanced solutions.

Aside from the aforementioned support, the government will also allocate $250 million to help businesses digitalize in partnership with platform solution providers (e.g. helping offline retailers migrate to online business models) to pave the way for domestic revenue streams and international demand.


Conclusion

The emergence of a potential second wave of coronavirus infections in some countries have placed governments on tenterhooks as they chart plans to reopen their badly dented economies.

Although the Singapore government has prepared adequate resources to battle COVID-19, it is vitally important to stay nimble during this unprecedented period. Be adaptive to change, stay together, and support each other’s businesses through partnerships, collaborations and initiatives.

Play a part, big or small, to help the community and our everyday heroes by practicing safe-distancing habits and good hygiene when delivering goods and offering your services.

March forth with valour and together, we will overcome the pandemic.

#SGUnited


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About the author

Jennifer loves helping SMEs in their business growth journey. She is also an epicurean and has perpetual wanderlust. During the weekend, she weaves poems out of thin air and buries herself in books.

budget
Enhanced Cash
Credit Support
SMEs
Fortitude Budget
COVID-19
pandemic
SGUnited

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