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Resilience Budget: Aviation, tourism-related firms to get 75% wage offsets

TO support Singapore’s aviation sector during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has rolled out an enhanced support package as well as hefty wage offsets to help retain workers.

Businesses operating in the aviation sector will get a 75 per cent offset for the first S$4,600 of monthly wages for every local worker they employ, under an enhanced Jobs Support Scheme.

This will be paid in the same months as the payouts in the main Jobs Support Scheme. The scheme was first introduced in Budget 2020 on Feb 18 to offer wage offsets for three months for workers that are Singaporeans or permanent residents in all enterprises.

This enhancement will cost the government more than S$400 million, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in Parliament on Thursday as he announced the new Resilience Budget.

In addition, there will be a S$350 million enhanced aviation support package.

It will fund measures such as rebates on landing and parking charges, as well as rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.

“This will also allow Singapore to retain a minimum level of connectivity to the world even during the pandemic,” Mr Heng said. “This is critical to enable overseas Singaporeans to return home and keep our supply lines for essential goods open.”

He pointed out that the aviation sector has significant linkages to the rest of the Republic’s economy. If the sector collapses in a crisis, “it will be very hard for the aviation industries to rebuild after the crisis is over, and the recovery of the rest of the economy will be impeded”, he added.

“We must therefore ensure that this temporary shock to our air hub does not become a permanent one.”

Aside from aviation, several other tourism-related industries have also had a difficult time due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Jobs Support Scheme will thus also be enhanced for licensed hotels, travel agencies, tourist attractions, cruise terminals and operators, and operators of purpose-built MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) venues.

These firms will likewise get a wage offset for 75 per cent of the first S$4,600 of monthly wages.

On top of these measures, the government will also set aside S$90 million to help the tourism industry rebound strongly, “when the time is right”, Mr Heng said on Thursday.