Budget 2021: How it’s tackling the Impact of Covid19
During the Covid-19 crisis, Singapore has incurred one of the largest overall budget deficits in its post-independence of S$64.9 billion which amounts to 13.9 percent of the GDP in the 2020 financial year. Budget 2021 while still remaining expansionary; also adds to an overall deficit of S$11 billion. The government has proposed to draw on the past reserves to fund the S$11 billion Covid-19 resilience package.
A total sum of $4.8 billion has been set aside as Covid-19 resilience package to help with public health, vaccination, and for the safe reopening measures. Another amount of S$5 billion has also been set aside to cater for continued support of businesses and workers. Out of this S$2.9 billion is to take care of the Jobs Support Scheme alongside S$700 million that’s to take care of the hardest hit tier 1 sectors such as aviation, tourism, aerospace and tier 2 sectors
Safeguarding Public Health
In order to continue with the efforts geared towards curbing the spread of coronavirus, the Finance Minister, Mr. Heng mentioned that S$4.8 billion package is to be dedicated towards safe-reopening and public health. It covers expanding nation-wide vaccination program, contact tracing system, maintaining existing precautionary measures, testing regime and safe-distancing requirements. Vaccination of people is vital and the Prime Minister urged those who are medically eligible to take the vaccine whenever their turn comes.
Support for the Hard Hit Sectors
Since the global travel isn’t likely to recover as many international borders remain closed; the government in this year’s budget has committed to providing S$870 million to help support the aviation sector. Towards the end of January; the total passenger movements at Changi Airport was only at 2 percent in comparison to what it was before Covid-19. The amount set aside for aviation industry is to sustain the sector and also help it upgrade its capabilities as they prepare for recovery.
According to a statement delivered by Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer; Goh Choon Phong; he reported that the budget measures will enable the company to effectively navigate the disruptions that have been caused by Covid-19 pandemic. The support is to help the aviation sector remain flexible enough so that they can seize opportunities that might arise when the international borders open.
SG United Jobs and Skills Package
An amount of S$5.4 billion has been allocated to the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. This allocation is in addition to the S$3 billion that’s channeled to various schemes that seek to create jobs and training opportunities for Singaporeans in 2020. Out of the S$5.4 billion, S$5.2 billion is to be set aside to cater for Jobs Growth Incentive which has been extended to run up to September 2021.
The scheme provides companies with salary support of up to one year from month to month in which a new Singaporean worker is hired. The older workers including those with disabilities and ex-offenders have been set apart for salary support of up to 1.5 years.