What does the Fortitude Budget mean for workers? We summarise.
On 26 May, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat unveiled the Fortitude Budget in parliament, the fourth Budget since the start of the year. (It follows the annual Budget speech in February, and the subsequent Resilience Budget in March and the Solidarity Budget in April.)
The $33 billion budget focuses on jobs, to support workers and businesses that have been forced to cut costs, freeze hiring or retrench staff as a result of the global pandemic as well as support for households and the community. President Halimah Yacob has given her in-principle support for the government to draw on past reserves for the support package, the second time reserves have been tapped for Covid-19 response.
“Together with the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, we are dedicating close to $100 billion ($92.9 billion) – to support our people in this battle, which is almost 20% (19.2%) of our GDP. This is a landmark package, and a necessary response to an unprecedented crisis,” said Mr Heng during his budget statement. “A distinctive feature of this Budget is that we are setting aside a bigger contingent sum.
“We are dealing with unprecedented uncertainty, across all fronts. A bigger contingent sum will allow us to respond swiftly to fast-changing situations.”
Manpower-wise, the Fortitude Budget will provide the following for jobseekers, employees and employers (summarised from gov.sg):
- An extension for 1 more month to cover wages in August 2020
- Wage support at 75% continuing for firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker until they open or August 2020 (whichever is earlier)
- Increased support for affected sectors according to tiers from the previous 25% to either 50% or 75%. Newly-added sectors include built environment, aerospace and MICE. (More information here.)
The SGUnited initiative launched in previous budgets will be further broadened and improved. A SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package will create close to 100,000 opportunities in three areas – jobs, traineeships and skills training. The package aims to create 40,000 jobs by end-2020, consisting of approximately 15,000 jobs in the public sector and 11,000 jobs in the private sector. (The remaining 14,000 places will come from the expanded career conversion programmes.) It consists of:
The SGUnited Traineeships programme will provide 21,000 traineeships for local first-time job seekers. A new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships scheme will be created to provide 4,000 traineeships for mid-career job seekers.
- SGUnited Skills
Training courses will be available for about 30,000 jobseekers to upgrade their skills while looking for a job. A training allowance of $1,200 per month for a course duration (between 6 to 12 months) will cover basic expenses. This will be rolled out progressively from July.
Additionally, the Budget will fund incentives to hire local workers who have completed eligible traineeship and training programmes.
- For eligible workers under the age of 40, the incentive will be 20% of the monthly salary for 6 months, capped at $6,000 in total.
- For those 40 and above, the incentive will be 40% of the monthly salary for 6 months, capped at $12,000 in total. These workers also will receive a further $500 SkillsFuture Credit top-up on top of $500 top-up for all adult Singaporeans aged 25 and above.
An additional $800m will be set aside for the COVID-19 support grant to support Singaporeans and PRs who need help. This includes those who have lost their jobs, are placed on no-pay leave or face significantly reduced salaries. Eligible recipients will receive up to $800 per month for 3 months.
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