Singapore Covid-19 Resilience Budget

While the bulk of the $48 billion Resilience Budget is going towards helping businesses and workers stay afloat, Singapore households and individuals have not been left out.

For one, the $1.6 billion Care and Support package announced at Budget 2020 in February has been upsized to $4.6 billion.

The government is also freezing all government fees and charges for a year, starting from April and ending in March next year. Student loans repayment and interest charges on loans for university and polytechnic studies will also be suspended from June up to May 2021.

In addition, cash payouts announced in the Budget are slated to be tripled, with adult Singaporeans set to receive either $300, $600 or $900 depending on their income levels.

The amount for parents with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and younger this year will also go up to $300, from just $100 before. “We will put more cash in the hands of all families to help them cope,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

In addition, low-income Singaporeans, who were originally set to get grocery vouchers of $100 over the course of 2020 and 2021, will now have this year’s allowance increased to $300. This translates to a total of $400 over two years.

Lower-income workers, including those who are self-employed, were not ignored either. The Workfare Special Payment will be increased to cash payouts of $3,000 each, a generous increase from payouts of some 20% of their Workfare Income Supplement payout last year.

A $1.2 billion Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme will allow eligible self-employed individuals to receive $9,000 in cash over a nine-month period. “This group has been harder to reach, as they work in diverse industries, many occupations, with varying working arrangements. They include taxi and private-hire car drivers, real estate agents, media and art freelancers and sport coaches,” said Heng.

He added that the government would also provide sustained support for the self-employed to train and upskill during the downtime amid the Covid-19 economic slowdown, with an additional $48 million set aside to extend the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme.

Interestingly, there wasn’t income tax relief or rebates. Sabrina Sia, leader of global employer services at Deloitte Singapore, notes that the help given out has been specifically tailored to the population sectors that need it the most.

“As expected, relief to individuals was not given in terms of income tax rebates as rebates will not help the lower income earners who do not pay taxes,” says Sia. “This should help to provide temporary relief to households with their living expenses during this trying period.”