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  • Resilience Budget addressed businesses’ most immediate concerns, a recent SBF poll reveals

Resilience Budget addressed businesses’ most immediate concerns, a recent SBF poll reveals

  • Resilience Budget’s Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme was most helpful for Singapore businesses
  • Declining demand and having to manage wage costs were the top two challenges cited by businesses.
Friday, 3 April 2020 [Singapore] Given the worsening economic situation amidst the protracted COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore and beyond, Singapore businesses have largely acknowledged that the Resilience Budget has been timely and impactful, with measures that have helped them meet their immediate needs, especially in the areas of wage costs and cashflow issues.

This was revealed in a poll conducted at the “Webinar on Resilience Budget 2020”, organised by Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on 2 April 2020. Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Education, gave the opening remarks at the webinar. More than 380 webinar participants responded to the poll, of which 76 percent represented small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

An overwhelming 77 percent of respondents indicated that the Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme was most beneficial during this challenging period. This scheme provides for 75 percent wage offset for every local employed in the aviation and the tourism sectors, 50 percent wage offset in the food services sector, and 25 percent for all other sectors. This is up from the 8 percent wage subsidy in the Jobs Support Scheme announced in the Budget statement in February. The help will also last for nine months, instead of three, up to the end of this year.

More than one-third of businesses (34%) also appreciated the three-month deferment of income tax payments for companies, and the enhanced property tax rebates and enhanced rental waivers for Government-managed properties.

These findings were in line with the top challenges businesses say they have been grappling with, namely decline in demand (65%) and managing wage costs (61%). Increase in business costs (45%) and supply chain disruptions (43%) were also major concerns.

On the manpower front, it is worth noting that almost half of the businesses (48%) said that the current situation has not impacted their manpower needs and it is largely business as usual for them. For businesses that are faced with excess manpower, a reduction in work hours (30%) and institutionalisation of no-pay leave (20%) were the more common alternative work arrangements undertaken.

In response to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order that has banned all travels into and out of the country, similarly almost half of the respondents (45%) mentioned that this development posed no impact to their operations. On the other hand, businesses that were affected shared that having more short-term accommodation for workers (24%) was a critical need.

Mr S.S. Teo, Chairman of SBF said, “The extraordinary Resilience Budget has been well-received by the business community, with targeted and practical measures benefiting businesses at the most critical time. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect our economy and many others around the world, it is even more important for us to rally the business community and help one another so we can emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient. I strongly urge companies to have a longer-term perspective and leverage the measures announced in the Budget to transform their workers and business operations in preparation for the impending recovery.”

Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF said, “These are exceptional times and the Government has responded with an exceptional Resilience Budget, which has not gone unnoticed by our businesses. We are heartened that some of the immediate needs of companies are being met and we will work closely with the Government to ensure that these benefits flow down to companies fast to minimise business disruptions. SBF will continue to have its finger on the pulse of the business community’s needs and will work closely with the Government and various partners to introduce practical initiatives and programmes like the SBF ManpowerConnect, which has since been expanded to help companies from all sectors with their foreign manpower needs.”

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