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Budget 2020: More help for 5 sectors directly hit by Covid-19

These support measures include property tax rebates and rental waivers.

FIVE sectors – tourism, aviation, retail, food services, and point-to-point transport services – in Singapore which are directly affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) will receive additional support, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on Tuesday.

Under the special S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package announced to alleviate Covid-19’s impact on businesses, these additional support measures include property tax rebates and rental waivers, on top of what will be available to all enterprises in the Republic.

In particular, to help the tourism sector with operating costs and cash flow, there will be a property tax rebate of 30 per cent for calendar year 2020, for the accommodation and function room components of licensed hotels and serviced apartments, as well as prescribed Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) venues.

Property tax rebates will be 15 per cent for international cruise and regional ferry terminals, and 10 per cent for the two integrated resorts, said Mr Heng.

Moreover, tourism enterprises will be able to obtain loans of up to S$1 million each with the interest rate capped at 5 per cent. These will come under a one-year temporary bridging loan programme to be introduced by the government and participating financial institutions, specifically for the tourism sector. The government will take on 80 per cent of the risk of the loans.

As for the aviation sector, there will be a suite of measures comprising rebates on aircraft landing and parking charges, assistance to ground handling agents, and rental rebates for Changi Airport’s shops and cargo agents.

Changi Airport will also receive a 15 per cent property tax rebate, Mr Heng said.

In the food services and retail business, the National Environment Agency will provide a full month of rental waivers to stallholders in NEA-managed hawker centres and markets.

Other government agencies, such as the Housing and Development Board, will provide half-a-month of rental waivers to its commercial tenants.

For private commercial properties, the government will grant a 15 per cent property tax rebate to those that qualify, to support food services and retail establishments operating there. “I strongly urge landlords to pass this on to their tenants by reducing rentals,” Mr Heng said.

As for the point-to-point transport sector, the Ministry of Transport has announced a Point-to-Point Support Package. Many taxi and private-hire car operators have come out “strongly” to support the initiative by matching the government’s contribution, Mr Heng said.

In addition, affected sectors will get more help to retain and reskill their workers amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Under the Adapt and Grow initiative, the government will enhance support through redeployment programmes for the four sectors of tourism, aviation, retail and food services.

This, together with the Jobs Support Scheme, is meant to support employers to retain and train more than 330,000 local workers in these sectors, Mr Heng said.

Workers in the four sectors can “make full use of the downtime” from the outbreak for training and upskilling, to prepare for the recovery of the economy, the minister added.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely. If needed, we can and are prepared to do more.”

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