Budget 2022: $500m package to help SMEs cope with Covid-19 challenges

Eligible small and medium-sized enterprises will get a payout of $1,000 per local employee, capped at $10,000 per firm.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Businesses will continue to get targeted help to cope with lingering challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Workers and businesses in sectors that are still struggling with the impact of the pandemic will receive $500 million through a Jobs and Business Support Package.

Eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will get a payout of $1,000 per local employee, capped at $10,000 per firm.

These comprise SMEs in a broad range of sectors like food and beverage, retail as well as performing arts and arts education. Operators of sports facilities, cinemas, museums, art galleries, historical sites, indoor playgrounds and other family entertainment centres will also be eligible.

The tourism, hospitality as well as conventions and exhibitions sectors will also be included.

Firms must have an annual operating revenue of less than $100 million, or employ fewer than 200 employees as at Dec 31 last year, among other criteria.

Local sole proprietors and partnerships in eligible sectors - as well as Singapore Food Agency-licensed hawkers, market and coffeeshop stallholders, who do not hire local employees, will also get the one-off payout.

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Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the Government expects to see steady recovery this year.

"Singapore will continue to benefit from the pick-up in the global economy. More widespread vaccination and booster efforts will support growth in the major economies like the US and Eurozone.

"The recovery of our key trading partners in the region will also support our growth," said Mr Wong in his Budget speech on Friday (Feb 18).

Workers who continue to face income loss due to the pandemic can apply for the Covid-19 Recovery Grant, which has been extended till the end of this year.

The grant provides up to $700 per month for three months for workers who have lost jobs or have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave due to Covid-19.

The Jobs Growth Incentive will also be extended by six months to September, with stepped-down support rates reflecting the improved labour market conditions, said Mr Wong.

"This extension will cover those who face greater difficulty finding jobs, such as mature workers who have not been employed for six months or more, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders," he said.

The scheme, first introduced in September 2020 to support hiring during the Covid-19 pandemic, has already been extended twice, with the latest qualifying window originally slated to end next month.

More details about the extension will be shared during the debate on each ministry's spending plans, which will start the following week.

Catch The Straits Times' live coverage of Budget 2022 here.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.