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WP’s He Ting Ru: “Businesses are worried about adequate support measures” in light of recent Covid restrictions

The government “needs to improve on outcomes” for those who are less digitally-savvy, she said.

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Singapore — Workers’ Party MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) is seeking accountability from the government in relation to the most recent round of Covid-19 restrictions on behalf of business owners.

Due to an uptick of Covid cases earlier this year because of an increase in community cases linked to the more transmissible Delta variant, tighter restrictions were imposed.

These restrictions understandably affected many business owners, as Ms He wrote in a Jul 11 Facebook post, “who were already on their knees after over a year of reduced trading.”

Ms He further wrote that these business owners “reached out to me to share their struggles with navigating the various schemes and changing restrictions.”

She has since shared the questions she has raised in Parliament in connection with their concerns.

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Ms He asked the Minister of Finance if the current business support schemes would be extended until restrictions are lifted in the same levels as the first quarter of the year, as well as whether more information may be released to firms as to the kind of programmed that will be made available to them, including the schedule of disbursements for the different schemes.

The Sengkang GRC MP included a quote from Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who said, “We are providing targeted support to sectors more significantly affected by the tightened measures. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and calibrate our support for our businesses and our people accordingly.”

Ms He noted in her post that “businesses are worried” concerning whether or not there are enough support measures that will see them through these tough times.

She also argued for a “baseline level of support” writing that firms would benefit from these as they would give them the leeway to make advanced plans, even as restrictions are adjusted constantly.

Another issue that businesses have “expressed anguish over” is difficulties with cash flow, and she added that “payouts and rebates” are only paid out later, and that particular payout dates change depending on the programme.

Ms He has also asked Mr Wong what measures have been put in place by the government that would ensure that the qualified recipients of these support measures know about them and have applied for the support schemes.

“What has been done to ensure that business owners and individuals across all levels of digital literacy are able to easily apply for such schemes?”

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She again quoted the Finance Minister, who has said that the benefits from the support scheme are computed and disbursed automatically, and that “extra effort” is made for those who are not digitally-savvy so that they can be reached through non-digital means.

Ms He wrote that the new support schemes have been confusing to keep up with, and again pressed for a standardised baseline level of support for businesses that would allow them to become familiar with support schemes in order not to miss out on new ones they are eligible for.

She said that the government “needs to improve on outcomes” for those who are less digitally-savvy.

“For example, less than half of hawkers aged 60 years or more have restored for the Hawkers Go Digital programme,” she added. /TISG

Read also: He Ting Ru urges residents to keep estates clean

He Ting Ru urges residents to keep estates clean

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