As of March 26, MOH confirmed about 28 new cases leading to a total 683 of COVID-19 active cases, mainly with 364 imported cases. The alert level is still in DORSCON Orange since the disease is not spreading widely all over Singapore and is still being contained. Most of the current cases are imported ones. This disease has been declared a pandemic by WHO since it is spreading fast globally.
COVID-19 has greatly affected every aspect of a country especially its economy. Although, Singapore has a rising economy, it is still heavily affected especially its sectors from tourism, retail, aviation, food services and transport. But currently, we can see that it does affect everyone. Last March 12, PM Lee Hsien Loong addresses this issue sharing that the government does not only stop with $4bn Support and Stabilisation Package in the budget but they continue to work out for the second package to help affected companies and workers. Currently, the country is doing good in coping up with the economic effects of COVID-19. They have applied economic measures to address the issues which focuses mainly in helping companies and its workers.
Singapore’s Economic Response for COVID-19
1. $4 Billion Stabilisation and Support
To stay afloat for the coming months under economic uncertainties, the government provided $4bn of Stabilisation and Support package. To help workers stay employed, the package enables to provide support for their wages using two schemes: Jobs Support Scheme and Enhance Wage Credit. Job support scheme will help in retaining the local workers wherein the government will help enterprises in paying their wages. Enhance Wage Credit support enterprises in increasing the wages of Singaporean workers.
With the aim of stabilisation, the package will provide support to the economy by helping enterprises in terms of their cash flow. It will give a Corporate Income Tax Rebate for the year 2020. Additionally, under the corporate tax system, it will provide several tax enhancements for a year. To have easy access to working capital, it will provide also an enhancement with its Enterprise Financing Scheme’s Working capital loan component for a year. The government also give flexible rental payments.
2. Giving additional support to sectors directly affected by COVID-19
The sectors that are heavily affected by COVID-19: tourism, retail, aviation, food services and point-to-point transport services.
To support the tourism sector, the licence fees are waived for hotels, tour guides and travel agents. Additionally, Singapore Tourism Board will also help in cleaning cost for the hotels with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Property tax rebates for this year is also be granted to serviced apartments, licensed hotels, Incentive, prescribed Meetings, Conferences and Events (“MICE”) venues. Ferry terminals and integrated resorts can also receive the rebates. To provide additional cash flow, Temporary Bridging Loan Programme was introduced.
When it comes to aviation sector, rebates are also granted to parking charges and aircraft landing, assistance to ground handling agents. Rental rebates are also granted to shops and cargo agents at the Changi Airport. A 15% property tax rebate was also granted to Changi Airport.
The retail and food services are also granted with support by waiving the full month of rental fees to stallholders in NEA-managed hawker centres and markets. And for other Government agencies such as HDB, to provide support also to commercial tenants, half of the month rental fees will be waived. For establishments under qualified private properties will also receive a support by getting a 15% property tax rebate. Additionally, landlords were asked for the reduction of rentals.
For taxis and private hire car operators, the Ministry of Transport provides a point-to-point support package amounting to $77 million wherein the government provides the $45 million. This is a co-founded package by the government and the taxis and private hire car operators.
3. Extending help to businesses and self-employed persons affected by Leave of Absence and Stay-Home Notices
The Ministry of Manpower announced that they will provide Leave of Absence Support Program (LOASP) to support businesses and self-employed persons in times of COVID-19. Stay-home notices of 14 days are required to those who have travel history from mainland China. And the Government acknowledge that this will cause an issue in the long-run and it will give an inconvenience. To answer this, LOASP is given to eligible employers and self-employed individuals. Started last Feb 18, they can apply for a daily support of $100.
As PM Lee have said, this outbreak may take some time, either for a year or longer. But we can see that the country is coping well. The Government is extending its support to address the economic impact. They are working on the second package to further address the economic uncertainties brought by COVID-19 They are not only addressing economic impact but also, the medical, social and psychological impact.
Aside from the Government aid, we can also see the continued support of private sectors especially the presence of licensed money lenders. They are also offering flexible payment terms as support to the economic impact of COVID-19.
To cope -up with the economic uncertainties, we can see that working together is a must. Its growth will continue if every sector will support or do their part.