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NTUC to help administer applications, appeals for self-employed income relief

THE labour movement will help in administering applications and appeals for the government's Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) from April 20, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said in Parliament on Monday, in the debate on the Resilience Budget introduced on March 26.

First announced in the supplementary Resilience Budget, SIRS will give three quarterly cash payouts of S$3,000 each to eligible self-employed Singaporeans, in May, July, and October.

Some freelancers and self-employed have said they were worried about not having met the initial criteria, so it is good to hear about the broadening of criteria to include properties with annual value up to S$21,000, said Mr Ng. This eligibility change was announced in the latest Solidarity Budget introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday.

Mr Ng said that having spoken to Mr Heng and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, NTUC will step up to administer the applications and appeals for the scheme.

"We will try our best to push for inclusion and make this process as straightforward as possible," he added. More details will be shared by April 20.

Feedback - whether from chief executive officers, workers, or freelancers - has been appreciative, but there have also been calls for the  government assistance to be sped up, noted Mr Ng. "The government has pushed out a lot of budgetary help over the past few weeks. Money is on the table. The key now is to put this help directly into the pockets of ordinary workers and Singaporeans."

He hoped more people would also apply for the NTUC Care Fund for Covid-19, adding: "We in the labour movement want to chip in and help out our fellow workers and put cash directly into their hands." The fund gives up to S$300 in one-off relief to eligible union members facing hardship.

The NTUC has also been engaging CEOs to understand their concerns and to see how the labour movement can assist, whether through cutting costs to save jobs, accessing government assistance, or matching their excess workers to jobs through the NTUC's Job Security Council.

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