SINGAPORE: The Government has provided more than S$16 billion worth of assistance to Singaporeans and Singaporean companies so far, as the country crosses the halfway point of its extended "circuit breaker" period, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah on Wednesday (May 13).
This support was provided between March and May under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, said the minister in a Facebook post.
It includes S$7 billion under the Jobs Support Scheme to help companies retain and pay local workers, said Ms Indranee, adding that another S$4 billion will be paid out in May.
A total of 32 companies have returned their Jobs Support Scheme payouts worth a combined S$35 million as of May 9.
"I would like to acknowledge and thank those companies which did not need the money for donating it to charity or returning it so that it can be used for other good purposes," said Ms Indranee.
Other disbursements include S$2.5 billion given out in the form of property tax rebates, corporate income tax rebates and foreign worker levy waivers and rebates, said Ms Indranee.
This is on top of deferred income tax collection for companies and self-employed people to help with cash flow.
In addition, S$2 billion has been distributed to individuals and households to help with their daily expenses.
This includes the S$600 Solidarity Payment to all adult Singaporeans and the GST Voucher - Utilities-Save (U-Save) and S&CC rebates to eligible households.
Around 450,000 people in need of immediate financial help due to the COVID-19 pandemic have also received one-off cash assistance of S$500 under the Temporary Relief Fund, with a total of S$200 million given out.
"In May, we will also pay out S$300m for the first tranche of automatic payment under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme," said Ms Indranee.
"This will benefit over 100,000 self-employed persons."
For people who have lost their jobs and those who are on compulsory no-pay leave, or who have had their salaries cut for at least three consecutive months, the COVID-19 Support Grant is also available. This grant provides support of up to S$800 per month for three months.
About 20,000 applications for the COVID-19 Support Grant have been received as of May 10, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
The Government plans to draw a total of S$21 billion from past reserves to fund the Resilience and Solidarity Budgets announced earlier this year.
"Disbursing S$16 billion in the space of less than three months is unprecedented but necessary in these extraordinary times to help cushion the impact from COVID-19," said Ms Indranee.
"This has been possible due to prudent management of public finances and the strength of our reserves, which have been judiciously and painstakingly built up over the years for a time such as this."
When the circuit breaker period is over, Singaporeans will be "emerging into a changed world", said Ms Indranee.
"While some of what was done in the past will continue, the way we live and work will inevitably have to change," she said. "We will all have to adjust and adapt. The Government will provide the necessary support to enable the transition."
Singapore's extended circuit breaker period is scheduled to end on Jun 1.
[It will be extended, albeit with fewer restrictions, or a lifting of some restrictions. However, I do not think I will be able to sit down at a hawker centre just yet.]
The country has so far reported 24,671 cases of COVID-19. Twenty-one people have died due to the novel coronavirus.