Singapore - Covid 19 Response Search

Enter a keyword
Contributors
Fiscal Measures

1. Spending Measures (Budget Allocations)

Unity Budget on February 18 2020 -$6.4 billion

Resilience Budget on March 26 2020 - $48 billion

Solidarity Budget 6 April 2020- $5.1 billion.

Individuals:

The Care and Support – Cash provides between $300 to $900 to all Singaporeans aged 21 and above, depending on their annual income, with payments to be made by June 2020.

To help Singaporeans cope with the “Circuit Breaker”, a cash payout of $600 will be made by April 14, 2020, if bank account details were provided to the government. This consists of the first $300 payout from the Care and Support – Cash and an additional $300 one-off Solidarity Payment.

In addition, each Singaporean parent with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below will receive Additional Enhanced Care and Support – Cash of $300.

The conversion of the Passion Card Top-up to a cash payment so Singaporeans aged 50 and above in 2020 will receive an additional $100.

Lower-earning Singaporean workers or self-employed persons above the age of 35 as well as persons with disabilities who meet the Workfare criteria receive a Workfare Special Payment of $3,000, paid over two equal payments in July and Oct 2020.

Businesses:

Aviation sector: A S$350 million enhanced aviation support package is introduced to fund measures such as rebates on landing and parking charges, and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers, and cargo agents.

Tourism Sector: S$90 million is set aside to help the tourism industry recover after the pandemic blows over.

Land Transport Sector: Eligible taxi hirers and private-hire car drivers will receive Special Relief Fund payments of S$300 per vehicle per month until end-September 2020. To help private bus owners, a one-year road tax rebate, and six-month waiver of parking charges at government managed parking facilities will be provided, costing S$23 million in total.

Arts & Culture Sector: A S$55 million support package was announced to provide additional support to major companies and leading arts group. The National Arts Council (NAC)’s Capability Development Scheme for the Arts, to deepen skills and support professional development of arts organisations and practitioners. The digitalisation efforts will also be stepped up, by building the sector’s digital capabilities and establishing more digital arts platforms which can reach out to new audiences.

2. Tax Measures (Deferral of Payroll Tax Obligations, Extensions of Tax Filing Deadlines)

Automatic deferment of income tax payments for companies of three months

Qualifying commercial properties including hotels, serviced apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants, will pay no Property Tax.

Businesses in other non-residential properties will also enjoy a 30% Property Tax Rebate for the year 2020.

Property tax rebates must be passed to tenants in full and failure to do so will result in a fine of up to S$5,000 for the landlords.

All government fees and charges will be frozen for 1 year, from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Monthly Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) due in April 2020 is also waived, and employers will enjoy a FWL rebate of S$750 from levies paid this year for each Work Permit or S Pass holder.

The government will not increase its goods and services tax (GST) for 2021. The rate will remain at seven percent with the government preparing S$6 billion (US$4.2 billion)

3. Subsidies to Preserve Jobs, Employee Benefits, Food Assistance

For the month of April 2020, the government will pay for 75% on the first S$4,600 of monthly salaries for every local employee. From May 2020 till end-2020, firms in the food services sector will receive support at 50% of wages, and firms in the aviation and tourism sectors, the most badly affected from the lockdowns, will be supported at 75% of wages, while firms in all other sectors will receive support at 25%, up to a monthly wage cap of S$4,600. The JSS payouts will start from April 2020, followed by May, July and October 2020.

S$1.2 billion will be set aside for self-employed to receive direct cash support through a Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which offers S$1,000 per month to eligible self-employed people for nine months and S$48 million for enhanced hourly training allowances S$7.50 to S$10 plus trainees will be able to tap on their SkillsFuture Credit to further offset the course fees,

Union members facing financial distress can claim a one-off payment of up to $300 under the $25 million NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19).

Low-and middle-income workers who lose their jobs due to Covid-19 get cash grants of $800 a month for three months, administered by social service offices from next month to September.

4. Public Loan Guarantees and Expansion of Loans to Businesses

Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) – Trade Loan by increasing the maximum loan quantum from S$5 million to S$10 million. The maximum loan quantum of the EFS – SME Working Capital Loan is also increased from S$0.6 million to S$1 million.

Subsidies to businesses for loan insurance premiums under the Loan Insurance Scheme will also be raised from 50% to 80%. The Temporary Bridging Loan Programme is also expanded to cover all sectors and the maximum supported loan is increased from S$1 million to S$5 million.

The government’s risk share is also raised to 90% for the EFS-Trade Loan, the EFS-SME Working Capital Loan, and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme. This applies to loans initiated from 8 April 2020 till 31 March 2021.

5. Student Loan Relief

University and polytechnic government loan repayment and interest charges have been suspended for a year from June 1.

6. Insolvency Law Relief

Temporary relief for individuals and businesses in financial distress by temporarily –

a. For individuals: Increasing the monetary threshold for bankruptcy from $15,000 to $60,000, and

b. For businesses: Increasing the monetary threshold for insolvency from $10,000 to $100,000 (for companies/partnerships)

c. Lengthening the statutory period to respond to demands from creditors from 21 days to 6 months

Directors will be temporarily relieved from their obligations to prevent their companies trading while insolvent if the debts are incurred in the company’s ordinary course of business. However, Directors remain criminally liable if the debts are incurred fraudulently.

Monetary & Macro Financial Measures

1. Reduction of Interest Rates

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has eased monetary policy settings by flattening the slope of the trade-weighted Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER) to a zero-appreciation slope announced on Mar 30.

2. Expansion of Central Bank’s Holdings of Government Bonds

N/A

3. Other Measures to Support Flow of Credit

N/A

4. Suspension of Foreclosures/Evictions

Office, industrial, and agriculture tenants of government agencies will enjoy a 1-month rental waiver. In addition

Stallholders in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators will enjoy three months of rental waiver - up from one month previously - while commercial tenants will continue to get two months of rental waivers.

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 7 April 2020

The Act covers the following contracts entered into before 24 March 2020:

1. A loan or finance contract where the facility is secured either, by any commercial or industrial immovable property located in Singapore, or by plant, machinery or fixed assets located in Singapore which are used for business purposes, and:

a. The borrower or "enterprise" carries on business in Singapore;

b. At least 30% of its shares or interests are held by citizens or permanent residents of Singapore; and

c. the turnover of the group to which it belongs does not exceed $100 million in the latest financial year.

2. A performance bond or equivalent for construction and supply contracts.

3. Hire-purchase agreements for:

a. commercial vehicles, or

b. plant, machinery or fixed assets located in Singapore which are used for business purposes.

4. An "event contract", which is defined to mean a contract for the provision of a venue, accommodation, amenities, transport, entertainment, catering or other goods or services for:

a. a business meeting, incentive travel, conference, exhibition, sales event, concert, show, wedding, party or other social gathering, or sporting event; or

b. the participants, attendees, guests, patrons or spectators of any of such events.

5. A "tourism-related" contract, which is defined to mean:

a. a contract for the international carriage of passengers by sea or land;

b. a contract for the provision of transport, short-term accommodation, entertainment, dining, catering, tours or other tourism-related goods or services for visitors to Singapore, domestic tourists or outbound tourists; or

c. a contract for the promotion of tourism in Singapore or the distribution for the purposes of trade or retail of products related to such tourism.

6. A construction contract or supply contract, defined by reference to section 2 of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act ("Security of Payment Act").

7. A lease or licence of non-residential immovable property.

A party to a such a contract is entitled to relief if they are unable to perform an obligation due to be performed on or after 1 February 2020. The inability must be materially caused by either the COVID-19 pandemic or any law made because of COVID-19. The law made because of COVID -19 is not limited to the Singapore Government and can be by any national government.

The Act prohibits a contracting party from taking the following legal actions against a non-performing party:

a. Court and insolvency proceedings;

b. Enforcement of security over immovable property as well as movable property that is used for the purposes of business or trade;

c. Call on a performance bond given pursuant to a construction contract; and

d. Termination of leases of non-residential premises.

In addition, there will be additional relief in respect of forfeiture of deposits for events and tourism-related contracts.

In the case of construction and supply contracts, a contractor will be relieved from liability for non-performance if this was caused to a material extent by COVID-19.

Breaching the prohibitions is serious and could result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $1000. In addition, any court or arbitral proceedings under the Arbitration Act must be dismissed by the court or tribunal. This will mean that the party would lose their substantive right to enforce the contract at all, even once the temporary freeze has been lifted.

As a safeguard against unfair outcomes, assessors will be appointed by the Minister for Law to resolve disputes arising from the application of the Act. They will decide if the inability to perform contractual obligations was due to COVID-19 and will have the powers to grant relief that is just and equitable in the circumstances. The process will be affordable, fast, and simple. Parties will not be allowed to be represented by lawyers, and there will be no costs orders. Assessors’ decisions will be final and not appealable. Details of the application process will be released in due course.

5. Reductions/Suspensions of Mortgage Payments

Late payment charges on Housing Board mortgage arrears have been suspended for three months.

6. Asset Purchases (Liquidity Facilities, Purchase of Private and Public Sector Securities, Acquiring Equity of Larger Affected Companies)

N/A

7. Exchange Rate Adjustments

US$60 billion swap line with the US Federal Reserve.

Health Policy Responses

1. Social Distancing

People must keep at least one meter apart, and cannot meet in groups of more than 10 people outside of work or school.

The regulations on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) require new arrivals to self-isolate and from 27 March the returnees from the United Kingdom and the United States of America will serve their 14-day SHN in dedicated facilities.

The law also forbids leaving home for five days for those whose medical certificate by a medical practitioner states that they have any acute respiratory symptoms.

Fines of up to SGD $10,000 and/or up-to six months in prison can be enforced for violating these laws.

2. Closure of Public Places for Gathering

Bars, cinemas, lounges, bars, and other entertainment venues to close. Shopping malls can remain open on the condition that they limit traffic. No place should have “more than one person per 16 square meters of usable space.

Retailers, ranging from boutique stores to supermarkets, should:

  • Space out the queuing of shoppers (at least 1m apart) for fitting rooms and at cashiers.
  • Use floor markers to mark queuing positions for shoppers.
  • Encourage the use of self-checkouts, and cashless or contactless payment to speed up the process of payment and reduce cash-handling.
  • Limit the number of shoppers within the store to allow for at least a meter of spacing between them, where possible. This can be done by letting shoppers into the store progressively.

Food & Beverage operators should:

  • Reduce the number of people gathering outside the outlet by putting in place queue management solutions, such as calling the customer when there are seats available, or when a queue is unavoidable, marking specific areas and spacing out customers at a safe distance of at least one meter apart.
  • Provide mobile ordering and payment solutions so that diners can order and make payments directly without having to wait at the cashier.
  • Install pre-ordering solutions for F&B kiosks to minimize the physical clustering of customers waiting to pick up their orders.
  • Ensure a distance of at least one meter between tables or different groups of customers, although related customers (e.g. family members, couples) can be seated together without spaced out seating.

3. Closure of Non-Essential Businesses

Employers are to put in place measures to reduce close physical interactions between employees, such as spreading out the starting hours across at least three one-hour blocks and have “no more than 50% of total employees reporting to work” within each block, and to facilitate telecommuting for employees to work from home.

4. School Closures

No.

Other Measures

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act allows companies to make alternative arrangements for any meetings where personal attendance is required by either a company's constitution or the Companies Act, for example a statutory meeting or the annual general meeting pursuant to s174 and s175 of the Companies Act, respectively. The key alternative arrangements to take place include allowing:

  • Meetings to take place electronically, including voting, the tabling of questions and responses to questions;
  • Quorum for a meeting to be reduced;
  • Voting at a meeting to be made by proxy;
  • The meeting to be deferred.
  • Specific details on the conduct of meetings will be prescribed in the regulations, which have not yet been released.

Temporary Measures for Court Proceedings

The Act will allow for non-COVID related court proceedings, to continue by providing temporary measures for witnesses to appear remotely via video-link or other remote technology. However, also note that the Singapore Supreme Court had, on 5 April 2020, issued a Registrar’s Circular adjourning all non-essential, non-urgent hearings until after 4 May 2020.

Country
Published Date
2020-04-15