This article was adapted from Really Singapore (www.really.sg), a premium Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform with an integrated B2B marketplace for digital procurement and workflow automation.
With the recent extension of loan assistance programmes for SMEs by the government, businesses can now make use of this along with other available schemes to ready themselves for the new normal. The government’s proactive intervention means SMEs can easily gain access to these programmes that were carefully designed to benefit them the most during the slowdown. Many SMEs have seized the opportunity to tap these programmes to build new capabilities and future-proof their business.
Read on to find out how you too can take advantage and benefit from the right schemes for your business.
"I encourage businesses to make use of this extension and other available schemes to ready themselves for the new normal," said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
Loans for Businesses
For companies that want to expand but lack the necessary funding, these support schemes extend the following SME loans which can be repaid in installments.
Grants for Business Upgrading
These support schemes or grants help businesses under stress to enhance their workflow.
- Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Go Digital: SMEs Go Digital is a programme designed to help SMEs transform digitally. From digital start packs to SME grants, to subsidised digital project management services, and even digital plans for various industries, the programme deploys the right resources to strengthen SMEs’ digital capabilities.
- Productivity Solutions Grant: The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business productivity. It covers 80% of the cost for sector-specific solutions such as retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction, landscaping industries as well as cross-sector areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking.
Financial Support for Businesses
In the wake of COVID-19, these packages can help cover for businesses impacted in terms of sales, therefore lacking the funds to pay taxes, employee’s salaries, or rentals.
- Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP): provides access to working capital for business needs through loan programmes. Companies can borrow up to S$3 million under the TBLP, with the interest rate capped at 5% p.a. They can also apply for deferrals of up to one year for principal repayments to help manage their debt, subject to assessment by PFIs.
- Wage Credit Scheme (WCS): offers businesses Government support to manage rising labour costs. Government co-funding ratios for wage increases in 2021 will be 15%; the qualifying gross wage ceiling will be $5,000.
- Rental Waivers: businesses with oppressive rents can resort to rental relief extended to SMEs and eligible non-profit organisations (NPOs) with an annual revenue not exceeding S$100 million who are tenant-occupiers of certain commercial properties.
Grants for Business Expansion (Overseas Expansion)
To encourage companies to expand their business overseas, government provide grants for businesses as an incentive.
- Enterprise Development Grant: supports Singapore companies who want to upgrade their business, innovate or venture overseas. This grant funds up to 80% of qualifying overseas project costs. The end of the programme has been extended from 30 September 2021 to 31 March 2022.
- Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant: offers a much-needed boost for SMEs looking to take their businesses overseas. The Grant offers funding of up to 70% of eligible costs, capped at S$100,000 per company per new market from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2023.
Training Programme Funding
The Government extends funding for training programmes to help Singapore’s workforce sharpen their skills and adapt to the changing post-pandemic environment.
- Enterprise Leadership for Transformation (ELT): this one-year programme helps SME business leaders develop their business growth capabilities. Eligible enterprises can qualify for up to 90% funding of programme fees.
- SGUnited skills (SGUS): this programme offers full-training courses, all certified by Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centers as well as higher learning institutes. Trainees are also given the opportunity to apply skills learned through a program in workplace internships and industry projects. SGUS has been extended to 31 March 2022; trainees will be given a S$1,200 monthly allowance.
To aid employers in finding more manpower for their business, the government has set up or co-sponsored job portals to help employers recruit online.
- SGUnited Jobs Virtual Career Fairs: This site lists job opportunities with immediate vacancies, with an emphasis on “frontliner” jobs as well as openings from businesses whose workforce supply is disrupted during this period.
- SGUnited Traineeships: This allows companies to bring in new graduates as trainees to support their business needs, as they tap on government support during the traineeship period. The government will co-fund 80% of the training allowance. The estimated monthly training allowance for each qualification is pegged to 50-70% of median starting salaries.
- SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme: SGUnited mid-career individuals can use this programme to widen their professional networks and gain new, in-demand skills. They can join attachment programmes lasting up to six months, and earn a S$3,000 allowance per month for the duration of their training. This programme has been extended until 31 March 2022.
Financial Support for Manpower
Some businesses are facing a lack of manpower due to restrictions to travel or circuit breaker requirements. Thus, the schemes below are intended to help businesses retain or recruit employees.
- Jobs Support Scheme (JSS): provides wage support to employers to help them retain their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) through this period of economic uncertainty. In Budget 2021, JSS was extended by up to six months for qualified firms, covering wages paid from April 2021 to September 2021.
- Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI): Replacing the Enhanced Hiring Incentive, the JGI supports companies’ efforts to hire more Singaporeans in this challenging labour market. Under the JGI, the Government will co-pay up to 25% of salaries of all new local hires between September 2020 to September 2021 for one year, subject to a cap. For those aged 40 and above, the co-payment to employers will be up to 50% for 18 months.
- Aviation Workforce Retention Grant (AWRG): provides additional wage support to companies in the aviation industry. Under the AWRG, companies will receive an additional 20 percent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages to each local employee from April to June 2021; from July to September 2021, companies will receive an additional 40 percent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee.
- Deferment of Higher CPF Contribution Rates: the scheduled increase in CPF contribution rates for senior workers was deferred by one year, from 1st January 2021 to 1st January 2022.
- Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) support for Foreign Direct Workers' (FDWs) employers: FDW employers with Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) requirements, whose FDWs served the SHN at an alternative accommodation (dormitories, hostels or hotels), can apply for $60 support per day per affected FDW. Their levies will also be waived during the FDW’s SHN period of 14 days.
- Levy rebate and levy waiver for business employers: Business employers that are not on Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI) permitted list to resume operations, as well as businesses in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors are eligible for levy rebates and waivers, amounting to $250 per work permit holder per month.
Such uncertain times calls for organisations to be innovative in finding new ways to overcome obstacles. We hope that these support schemes will help businesses to continue business operations and support each other in the face of unexpectedly austere times.
Contact us to learn more about how you can tap the Temporary Bridging Loan programme to strengthen your cash flow.