The Singapore Government will pump in additional funding to help the aerospace, aviation and tourism industries – three of the hardest-hit sectors – amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a ministerial statement on Monday (Aug 17).
In his statement, Mr Heng explained these sectors need to be supported as they are key drivers of the economy and multipliers for other sectors in Singapore.
“Our strategy is to provide further support for these sectors, to retain core capabilities and position them for an eventual recovery,” he said. “These sectors are important parts of our economy, and they are multipliers for other sectors.
“Singapore’s position as a global business node depends on our connectivity as an air hub. The Changi Air Hub and its adjacent industries contribute to over 5 per cent of Singapore’s GDP and employ more than 190,000 people. Tourism adds vibrancy to our retail and F&B sectors.”
An additional S$187 million will be put into the enhanced aviation support package – announced in March this year – so that it lasts until March 2021.
The scheme provides rebates on landing and parking charges, and rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents, among other measures.
“This will provide cost relief for our airlines, ground handlers, cargo agents, and airport tenants. This package will also support our local carriers to regain our air connectivity to the world,” Mr Heng said.
The authorities will also work with companies to support employees with specialised skills.
For example, workers who cannot work right now have been deployed to other areas in need of manpower where their skills are relevant.
So far, 500 aircrew members have been sent to hospitals to work as “care ambassadors”, tapping on their service skills to support non-clinical work, Mr Heng said.
This temporary redeployment programme will be expanded, he said. In healthcare alone, the Government will create around 4,000 new jobs, including permanent positions.
BOOSTING DOMESTIC TOURISM
Pointing out that foreign visitor arrivals have dried up because of the travel restrictions, Mr Heng said it will support the tourism sector by encouraging locals to explore their own backyard, although he acknowledged that local consumption will not make up for spending by foreign tourists.
The Government will be giving S$320 million worth of “SingapoRediscovers Vouchers” – tourism credits – to Singaporeans. More details will be provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in September.
“Many Singaporeans love to travel but are unable to do so now … but I hope Singaporeans will take the opportunity to explore our local culture and heritage, nature, art, and architecture,” Mr Heng said.
And for companies that will not be able to open soon due to safe management considerations, such as nightlife operators, the Government will help them transition to other activities or ease their exit, Mr Heng said, adding that details will be provided by MTI.
Further support might also be extended to businesses in the arts and culture, and sports sectors, which will take longer to resume full activities, Mr Heng said, although no details on specific measures were provided.
“These are important sectors that strengthen our social fabric and diversity,” he said.
“I am prepared to provide further support to preserve core capabilities that we have built over the years, in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.”