THE Resilience Budget by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is overall positive, bold and comprehensive.
The enhanced Job Support Scheme (JSS) for 9 months in particular is good as it hits the nail on the head for businesses as its effect is immediate and direct. It could also save both jobs and companies together.
I am all for providing assistance to those who are able to help themselves on a tripartite basis so that the efforts by the government can be effected in conjunction with the companies and employees.
For the Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (SEPs) of $1,000 for 9 months, I would tweak it by offering up to $2,000 per month for each self-employed person, on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis. This way, it will not be a handout, but will send a positive message that the government will help you more if you are willing to help yourself.
However, the scheme, as it stands, does not cover the self-employed who operate from a private limited company and do not pay themselves a salary. They are in no man’s land as they are neither an employee nor self-employed.
The government should also regard this group as self-employed since they are sole proprietors who set up a limited liability company to limit their asset exposure.
Finally, I think the package may be further improved in the area of the foreign worker’s levy. While the government recognises that SMEs may suffer a major cash crunch for their survivability, charging of 2% per month for each month of the delay of the payment of foreign worker’s levy just leaves a sour taste in the mouth against the overall spirit of such a special package.
Cash is king for SMEs to survive, so I would prefer the government recognise this and grant a 3-month deferment of paying foreign workers levy.
Or, better still, waive all levies and government fees for at least 6 months (instead of just freezing the fees) to help SMEs who will still need to depend on foreign workers in the interim and in anticipation of the upturn in the economy.
If SMEs cannot survive this downturn, they will have a hard time restarting when the upturn comes.
Richard Hoon is the CEO of I Search Worldwide and Chapter Chairman of YPO Gold.
Here are the links to all the Friday Focus articles on The Resilience Budget:
- Impressive…But Wait For The Details
- Unexpected Support
- Time To Prioritise
- Keep The Money Flowing
- A Generous Helping Hand
- Some Questions Unanswered
- What About The Hardworking Foreigners?
- Cash Is King
- Living Day To Day
- Mind The Gaps!