Extended wage support and loan schemes, help to defray costs among SBF's recommendations for Budget 2022

SINGAPORE – Wage support and loan schemes should be extended and measures implemented to defray costs to help local firms recover amid the new post-pandemic economy, noted the Singapore Business Federation on Wednesday (Dec 15).

The recommendations were among 16 put forward by an SBF committee focused on next year’s Budget.

The overall aim is to assist companies ride on local, regional and global growth momentum, the SBF said.

One of the four themes highlighted in the recommendations centres on helping firms cope with the continued challenges as the global economy navigates an endemic Covid-19 world.

“Enterprises, particularly those in certain consumer-oriented businesses, will continue to face uncertainty, cost pressures and business sustainability risks,” the chamber noted.

It recommends that the 25 per cent wage support under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for sectors badly affected by Covid-19 curbs, such as food and beverage, retail and tourism, is extended by three more months after the Stabilisation Phase.

The committee also called for the moratorium for contracts to be extended, alongside the extension of the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme until March 31, 2023 to help firms cope with rising costs.

It is also seeking subsidies for antigen rapid test kits and for the Government to defray the costs of bringing in foreign manpower, which are now at elevated levels due to additional testing and quarantine requirements, the committee noted.

SBF chief executive Lam Yi Young said there is greater optimism among businesses for recovery and growth entering 2022, despite the continued challenges posed by Covid-19.

“The SBF committee has put together recommendations to address both the immediate-term challenge of business recovery and the emerging opportunities to tap on for future growth,” he added.

Mr Kurt Wee, who chairs the committee, said the business community is very grateful for Government assistance schemes released over the past two years amid an unstable operating environment.

The SBF’s package of recommendations would provide a timely tailwind for enterprises as they brace themselves for the final burst to recovery, he added.

It also asked for support in other areas to help firms seize new opportunities and increase their competitive advantage.

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For example, the committee wants the Government to subsidise up to 50 per cent of the cost of firms adopting pre-identified green solutions as well as providing incentives to encourage the use of electric vehicles for logistics and business operations.

These incentives could come through tax and COE (certificate of entitlement) rebates and the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

More support could also be provided to help businesses scale up with intangible assets and build their cyber resilience.

A shared advisory service could be set up by the Government to assist companies with business continuity and crisis management in the event of a cyber-attack and to aid recovery and prevent reputational damage to businesses, it suggested.

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