Singapore Budget 2021: What you need to know about the EST budget

As the world continues to recover from the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore government has announced its plan for Budget 2021, titled the “Emerging Stronger Together (EST)” budget.

In his address, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat focused on how Singapore can come out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and forge partnerships to meet the challenges ahead. DPM Heng Swee Keat also highlighted the need to help workers and businesses adapt, innovate and grow to the developing norms brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, an emphasis on the need for individuals and businesses to push for digital transformation was stressed in his address.

But what does this mean for you, your business and employees? Keep on reading to find out more!


Changes under the EST budget

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for digital transformation. Companies who have been able to withstand the heavy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were likely those who had already begun to adopt digitalization prior to the pandemic.

The EST budget echoes this sentiment by offering further support to all other firms to help improve their business models and adopt digital solutions that will help improve productivity.  Under the COVID-19 Resilience Package, S$11 million will be channeled into helping businesses and workers fight against the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the changes for businesses you need to know!

For micro, SMEs and large enterprises:

1. New Emerging Technology Programme

  • Co-fund costs of trials and adoption of frontier technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and trust technologies.

2. Chief-Technology-Officer-as-a-Service (CTOaaS) Initiative

  • Provide firms with access to professional IT consultancies to help identify and adopt digital solutions.

3. Digital Leaders Programme

  • Encourage promising firms to hire a core digital team that will help develop and implement a digital transformation roadmap.

For large local enterprises:

1. Large Local Enterprises (LLEs) Funding Platform

  • Eligible LLEs may co-invest $500 million with Singapore investment company Temasek to help enter their next phase of growth.

For employers and employees:

1. Job Support Scheme (JSS)

  • Additional S$700 million to be allocated.
  • 10 to 30 per cent in tiered wage subsidies with extensions based on tiered sectors.
  •  Businesses in Tier 1 sectors – aviation, aerospace and tourism: A six-month extension with 30 per cent support for wages paid from April to June this year, and 10 per cent support for wages paid from July to September.
  • Businesses in Tier 2 sectors – retail, food services, arts and culture, and marine and offshore:  Wage support of 10 per cent for three more months, covering wages paid up to June.
  • Businesses in Tier 3A sectors: No changes; however, 10 per cent of wages up to March for firms in these sectors will still be covered as previously announced.

2. SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package

  • Support the hiring of 200,000 locals and provide up to 35,000 traineeship and training opportunities this year.
  • Additional S$5.4 billion to be added on top of the $3 billion allocated in 2020.
  • S$5.2 billion to be allocated to the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) to extend the hiring window by seven months, up to end-September this year.
  • Extensions of up to 12 to 18 months in wage support for eligible firms.

3. Wage Credit Scheme

  • Wage Credit Scheme will be extended for a year, at a co-funding level of 15 per cent.
  • The Capability Transfer Programme (CTP) is one of many programmes that supports such foreign-to-local skills transfer.
  • CTP will be extended to end-September 2024.

Wrap up

The announcement of these various schemes and enhancements bring hope to many Singaporean businesses riding through this difficult period.

For further information on the Singapore Budget 2021, visit the official Ministry of Finance resource here!

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