Singapore – Prior to the release of the second stimulus package to be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday afternoon (Mar 26), the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) disclosed its budget statement proposal which includes an additional S$11 billion provision.
On Wednesday (Mar 25), the opposition party has proposed that S$11 billion, in addition to the Unity Budget, is needed to “fend off the impact of Covid-19 on Singaporeans and local businesses.”
PSP noted the Government’s “lukewarm and unimaginative” response to the health problems and ensuing economic issues caused by the pandemic. Compared to Canada’s C$10 billion, Germany’s €550 billion and Switzerland’s 10 billion Swiss francs being allocated for their companies and workers, Singapore’s Budget 2020 provided very conservative measures like tax rebates and various schemes, said the PSP.
“The Singapore Government under-estimated the impact of Covid-19, and so its measures to address it in Budget 2020 fell far short of addressing it effectively,” said the party, which is why barely three weeks since implementation, there was a need for a second stimulus package to be introduced.
The party is proposing enhanced job support schemes, more substantial rental fee reductions and tax cuts for landlords who reduce rentals for tenants as key elements to help businesses and workers alike.
The current Job Support Scheme only covers eight per cent of local workers’ salaries (up to three months, and up to S$864 per worker), said the PSP. What is needed is “many times larger,” hence, the party proposed for the scheme to be enhanced by subsidizing 30 per cent of Singaporean workers’ salaries for up to six months or until the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
On top of labour costs, rentals and mortgage payments are some of the most significant obligations carried by businesses. The current 15-30 per cent property tax rebate for qualifying commercial properties, a month’s rental waiver to stallholders in NEA-managed hawker centres and markets, and a half month’s rental waiver to tenants in government agencies’ facilities need to be revised, said the PSP.
They proposed that the stimulus package reduce rental fees of government properties by two-thirds until the crisis end and provide 50 per cent tax cuts for landlords who comply with rental waivers for their tenants. “Such a measure, if adopted, will require landlords to show that they are helping tenants first before the Government chips in.”
PSP calculated that the various proposed measures would cost S$11 billion.
Furthermore, PSP is hoping that the new stimulus package to be announced would be far-sighted and generous to provide better relief to Singaporeans and local businesses. They also urged for a timely roll-out and implementation without any delay because time is of the essence.
According to Mr Leong Mun Wai, Assistant Secretary-General of PSP, “Our first priority must always be the health of the people and the Government must look after the families and jobs of Singaporeans.” The proposed stimulus package will protect jobs and save our local businesses in these very trying times, he added.
Read the full statement here.
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