Singapore government delivers another landmark budget

Its fourth budget in less than four months, the Fortitude Budget costs S$33 billion (US$23.25 billion) and includes more help for the MICE trade

The three enhancements to the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will cost S$2.9 billion. Through the JSS, a total of $23.5 billion will be given to firms to support wage costs for 10 months. Credit: Getty images

SINGAPORE - More help is coming the way of Singapore's MICE event organisers which are now included in the Tier 1 Job Support Scheme (JSS) of sectors deemed to be the most severely affected by COVID-19.

This was announced by finance minister and deputy prime minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat, during his fourth budget speech in an unprecedented period of four months on 26 March.

The scheme will pay out 75% wages on the first $4,600 of a worker's gross monthly pay, subject to criteria that include the following:
•    they must be impacted by the deferment/cancellation/loss of sales of at least one MICE/leisure event with at least 20% foreign attendees (residing outside Singapore) and originally scheduled in Singapore between 1 Feb 2020 to 31 Dec 2020
•    they must derive more than two-thirds of their revenue from MICE/leisure events with at least 20% foreign attendees (residing outside Singapore).

Mr Heng said that once firms come out of the circuit breaker - Singapore's partial lockdown - which will be gradually eased from 2 June 2020, they will not be able to return immediately to pre-circuit breaker levels of operations. Hence, the government has decided to enhance the duration of JSS payouts by one month for all firms to cover 10 months in total. Firms will receive this additional month of payout in the October 2020 JSS payout.

The second enhancement is for firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker. Such firms will be given wage support at 75% until August 2020 or when they are allowed to re-open, whichever is earlier.

The third enhancement is to refine the classification of firms in the different JSS tiers, a move in which many MICE event organisers have been anxiously anticipating for re-classification, as they fell under the 25% category.

Said Mr Heng: "This (enhancement) arose from feedback from industry associations and businesses. I will increase the level of wage support for firms in sectors that are more severely impacted, from the previous 25%, to either 75% or 50%."

Eligible MICE and tourism event organisers will now receive a back-payment to top up their previous JSS payouts to the higher level of support. This retrospective payment will be made by July.

These three enhancements to the JSS will cost S$2.9 billion. Through the JSS, a total of $23.5 billion will be given to firms to support wage costs for 10 months.

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