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Singapore 2021 Budget: Further relief for MICE?

New S$11 billion package extends Jobs Support Scheme for tourism and aviation sectors, and new initiatives to encourage digital transformation.

The package will be three-pronged: Continuing support for workers and businesses, safeguarding public health and providing targeted help to sectors that are still under stress.
The package will be three-pronged: Continuing support for workers and businesses, safeguarding public health and providing targeted help to sectors that are still under stress.

Singapore has announced its Emerging Stronger Together budget for 2021, a S$11 billion (US$8.31 billion) package covering aviation aid, enhancing digital-readiness, and extending the Jobs Support Scheme for worst-hit sectors — but does this include the MICE industry?

Singapore's deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat delivered the Budget 2021 statement in Parliament on Tuesday, 16 February, stating that the "global battle from Covid-19 is far from over," and that the Covid-19 Resilience Package will tackle the "immediate tasks" of fighting the pandemic.

To date, 250,000 people in Singapore have received the first dose of vaccine, while 55,000 have received their second dose.

The package will be three-pronged: Continuing to support workers and businesses, safeguarding public health and providing targeted help to sectors that are still under stress. 

Budget JSS
Firms in Tier 1 sectors — aviation, aerospace and tourism — will receive another six months of support under the JSS scheme.

In particular, the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended for the fourth time since it was first introduced last February. This year's JSS budget will cost the government another S$700 million for its efforts to subsidise wages for firms.

"So far, we’ve committed over S$25 billion to JSS, and supported over 155,000 employers for up to 17 months. The current tranche will continue to cover wages up to March 2021 for most sectors," said Heng.

However, the deputy prime minister pointed out that despite a recovering economy, some sectors remain under stress, and hence the need for an extended JSS scheme.

Businesses in Tier 1 sectors — aviation, aerospace and tourism — will receive another six months of support. Relevant companies can expect an initial 30% support for wages paid from April to June, followed by 10% support for wages paid from July to September, 2021.

Meanwhile, firms in other industries that have been hit hard, including food services, retail, and arts and entertainment, will receive 10% of wages paid from April to June.

MICE industry players that were previously categorised as 'Tier 1' will likely receive the JSS extension, this includes dedicated MICE venues and event businesses that meet a strict set of criteria: 

  • Business must be impacted by the deferment/cancellation/loss of sales of at least one MICE/leisure event with at least 20% foreign attendees and originally scheduled in Singapore between 1 Feb 2020 to 31 Dec 2020; and
  • Derive more than two-thirds of their revenue from MICE/leisure events with at least 20% foreign attendees (residing outside Singapore); and
  • Be classified under SSIC codes 82301, 82302 or 82303.  


Since October, the Singapore Tourism Board has been accepting applications from event businesses to pilot Covid-safe meetings and events, which are currently capped at 250 pax.

Meanwhile, the aviation industry will receive an additional S$870 million in relief, with the government investing in  on-arrival testing and biosafety systems in an effort to secure Singapore's position as a key aviation hub.

Heng noted that global air travel recovery will "take some time" with most international borders closed, and he expects the sector to take this lull time to prepare for travel recovery. “Airports will be differentiated by their capabilities in securing public health and enabling safe travel. They will need digitalised systems and the ability to effectively re-route people and goods,” he said.

As of end January 2021, total passenger movement at Changi International Airport was only 2% of pre-Covid levels. 

Budget Businesses
S$24 billion will be allocated to help businesses jump on the digital bandwagon.

On the business front, the Singapore government has allocated S$24 billion to allow enhancements to the current co-funding programmes offered to companies. This includes S$1 billion to extend existing schemes, such as the Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant, to March 2022.

To drive Singapore's digital transformation further, new schemes will be introduced to further aid businesses. This includes a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) as-a-Service initiative, which will give companies access to professional IT consultancies; a Digital Leaders Programme to help firms in hiring digital teams; and an Emerging Technology Programme to support the adoption of new technologies such as 5G and AI (artificial intelligence).