Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons said: “It is important that employers review the new measures to better understand how they will be impacted and take any necessary action."
The budget (95-page / 880KB PDF) includes a S$500 million (US$372m) Job and Business Support Package. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) badly hit by Covid-19 will get S$1,000 (US$742) per local employee, up to a maximum of S$10,000 each firm. Eligible firms must have an annual operating revenue of less than S$100m, or employ less than 200 employees as of 31 December 2021, among other criteria.
The package covers SMEs in business sectors including food and beverage, retail, performing arts and arts education, tourism, hospitality, conventions and exhibitions businesses. Operators of sports facilities, cinemas, museums, art galleries, historical sites, indoor playgrounds and other family entertainment centres are also included.
Eligible local sole proprietors and partnerships and hawkers, market and coffeeshop stallholders licensed by the Singapore Food Agency, will get a one-off payout. These businesses do not hire local employees, so are not entitled to the employee-specific grants.
Workers who lost jobs or have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave due to the pandemic will be able to apply for the Covid-19 Recovery Grant, which has been extended until the end of the year and will provide up to S$700 per month for three months. The Jobs Growth Incentive, which supports the hiring of mature and vulnerable workers, will be extended by six months to September, with stepped down support rates.
The end of the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP) and enhanced Trade Loan Scheme will be extended from 1 April to 30 September. The TBLP was launched in March 2020 to provide working capital to businesses during the pandemic, while the Enterprise Financing Scheme Trade Loan supports finance needs of local businesses. Project loans to the domestic construction sector through the enhanced Enterprise Financing Scheme will also be extended for another year, from 1 April to 31 March 2023.
The government will increase the personal income tax payable by higher earning Singaporean resident taxpayers from 2024. Tax will be charged at 23% on chargeable income above S$500,000 up to S$1 million, while income in excess of S$1m will be taxed at 24%. This is higher than the 22% tax currently charged on income above S$320,000. Income above S$320,000 up to S$500,000 will continue to be taxed at 22%.
The government will co-fund 50% of pay increases in 2022 and 2023, 30% of pay increases in 2024 and 2025, and 15% of pay increases in 2026, through a new Progressive Wage Credit Scheme. Finance minister Lawrence Wong said an initial S$2 billion would be set aside in 2022 to fund the scheme.
Subsidies will apply to local workers including Singaporeans and permanent residents who are earning a gross wage of up to S$2,500 a month. There is a lower co-funding rate for those earning above S$2,500 and up to S$3,000, which is 30% for wage increases in 2022 and 2023, and 15% for increases in 2024. Employers would be required to increase their gross wages by an average of at least S$100 in a year to qualify for the support for that year. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will automatically pay the allowance by the first quarter of the year following the wage increases.
The existing Workfare Income Supplement scheme will also be enhanced, including higher maximum annual payouts of S$2,100 to S$4,200, increasing the qualifying income cap from S$2,300 to S$2,500, and extending the scheme to younger workers aged 30 to 34.