COVID-19: What are the financial relief and Government support available for businesses?

The Government in Singapore has announced a total of 4 budgets within a short span of 4 months from February to May 2020, dedicating S$92.9 billion to help businesses and individuals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Fortitude Budget (4th budget announced 26 May 2020)
  2. Solidarity Budget
  3. Resilience Budget
  4. Union Budge

This article summarizes the various support for business that would help you manage your cash flow needs. The budgets are aimed at providing support to business on the 3Cs- cash flow, cost and credit, as well as helping business to embark on digital transformation to ensure viability of the business for the future.

Table of Contents

A. Cash Flow Support

A1. Job Support Scheme (JSS)

Under the Job Support Scheme (JJS), the government will co-fund between 25% to 75% of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) through cash payout.

How does it work?
  • Extension of one month to cover wages in August 2020, bringing the total wage support to 10 months.
  • 75% wage support for April and May 2020 during circuit breaker period, regardless of sector.
  • Firms that are not allowed to resume operations on 2nd June such as retail outlets, gym, fitness studio etc would continue to receive 75% wage support until August 2020, or when they can reopen, whichever is earlier.
  • Firms that are allowed to resume operations on 2nd June would revert to receiving the base tier of support (between 25% to 75% depending on sector).
Key points to business owners
  • The cash payout is computed based on CPF contribution data, so make sure you submit on time.
  • You would receive three main payouts in Apr, Jul and Oct 2020, and a special payout in May 2020.
  • You would receive wage support for a total of 10 months, 75% for 2 months (Apr and May 2020), and either 25%, 50% or 75% for the remaining 8 months depending on the sector your business operates in.
How to apply?

There is no need to apply. All employers who have made CPF contributions for their local employees would automatically qualify.

A2. Deferment of income tax payment for 3 months

To ease cashflow for businesses, all companies with corporate income tax payments due in April, May and June 2020 would be granted 3-month deferment. Payment would start from July 2020.

How to apply?

There is no need to apply. The deferment would be granted automatically. 

B. Cost Reduction Support

B1. Foreign Worker Levy Waiver and Rebate

The government will support employers who hire foreigner (S Pass or Work Permit holder) by waiving the Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) and providing rebate as follow:

  1. Full (100%) waiver of FWL due in Apr, May, and June 2020; 50% waiver in Jul 2020*
  2. Additional FWL rebate of S$750 for each S Pass or Work Permit holder in Apr, May, and June 2020; S$375 in Jul 2020*

*Jun and July 2020 FWL waiver and rebate are only for business that cannot resume operations on-site after circuit breaker is lifted ie construction, marine and offshore, process sectors etc. Levy rates would be restored from August 2020 onwards, or when workers resume to work, whichever is earlier.

How to apply?

There is no need to applyEmployers who have paid up to December 2019’s FWL levy in full would be automatically eligible. 

B2. Rental Relief for SME Tenants

The government has expanded the rental relief in the Fortitude Budget to help SMEs with rental cost through the following:-

  1. Cash grant to offset rental cost. This grant would be disbursed through property owner from end July 2020
  2. Additional rental waiver by landlord for SME tenants who satisfy all criteria below:-
    • SME at the group level (up to S$100 million turnover in 2019);
    • Suffered substantial drop in average monthly revenue during COVID-19 ie average monthly revenue on an outlet level reduced by 35% or more from April to May 2020, compared to April to May 2019; and
    • The tenant must be in force on 1 April 2020.

Duration of Rental Relief

Type of Relief

Qualifying Commercial Properties (e.g. Shops)

Industrial / Office Properties

(A) Rental Relief for eligible SMEs (supported by Government Assistance)*

Rental Waiver

2 months (for April-May 2020)

1 month (for April 2020)

(B) Additional Rental Relief for Eligible SMEs (bourne by Landlord)^

Rental Waiver

2 months (for June-July 2020)

1 month (for May 2020)


4 months (for April-July 2020)

2 months (for April-May 2020)

How to apply?
  • There is no need for SME tenants to apply. The qualifying tenants would receive the cash grant from government through property owner from end July and rental waiver from landlord.
  • Landlord who is unable to provide additional rental relief tabulated above due to financial hardship may seek an assessment. If accepted, the Assessor can halve the amount of additional rental relief i.e. 1 month of base rental for qualifying commercial properties, and half a month waiver of base rental for industrial and office properties.

C. Credit Support

The Government has announced further enhancement to the financing schemes to ensure businesses continue to have access to credit.

C1. Temporary Bridging Loan Programme

Temporary Bridging Loan is for businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, this loan would alleviate your cash flow needs and help your business stay afloat.

  • You can now obtain a maximum loan quantum of S$5 million, regardless of sectors (previously only applicable to tourism industry)
  • Interest rate is capped at 5% per annum
  • Government’s risk share has increased to 90% for new applications initiated from 8 April 2020 to 31 Mar 2021
  • You may request for deferment of principal repayment for 1 year, subject to approval
C2. Enterprise Financing Schemes – SME Working Capital Loan

SME Working Capital Loan would help to finance your operational cash flow needs. 

  • You can now obtain a maximum loan quantum of S$1 million
  • Government’s risk share has increased to 90% for new applications initiated from 8 April 2020 to 31 Mar 2021
  • You may request for deferment of principal repayment for 1 year, subject to approval

Question: What is the difference between Enterprise Financing Schemes – SME Working Capital Loan (EFS-WCL) and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP)?

Answer: Government has introduced TBLP in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, to help businesses manage their immediate cash flow needs. You can borrow up to S$5 million under TBLP, with interest rate capped at 5% per annum.

Under EFS-WCL, the maximum loan quantum is S$1 million with no cap on interest rate. If you require more financing beyond TBLP ie more than S$5 million financing, you may apply to EFS-WCL for additional financing up to S$ 1 million.

C3. Enterprise Financing Schemes – Trade Loan

Trade Loan would help to support your trade financing needs, including financing of short-term import, export and guarantee needs.

  • You can now obtain a maximum loan quantum of S$10 million
  • Government’s risk share has increased to 90% for new applications initiated from 8 April 2020 to 31 Mar 2021
C4. Loan Insurance Scheme

Loan Insurance Scheme is a government risk-sharing scheme that helps you obtain trade financing.

  • The facility limit and premium would depend on your risk profile
  • The insurance premium is for 1 year only
  • Government’s subsidy for the insurance premium has increased to 80% until 31 March 2021.

Question: What is the difference between Enterprise Financing Schemes – Trade Loan (EFS-TL) and Loan Insurance Scheme (LIS) given that both are used to finance trade needs?

Answer: EFS-TL compliments LIS by insuring loans that are beyond the capacity of the LIS insurers, up to a limit of S$10 million.

C5. Financing Support for Startups

To continue encouraging startups and sustaining their innovation, the government has set aside following amount:-

  1. S$285 million Special Situation Fund for Startups (SSFS) targeting to provide support for promising startups based in Singapore to catalyse and crowd in matching private investment on 1:1 basis; and
  2. S$300 million for deep-tech startups under the Startup SG Equity scheme where the government would co-invest with third party investors into eligible startups in key emerging sectors, including Pharmbio/Medtech, Advanced Manufacturing and Agri-food tech 

Apart from helping business on the 3Cs – cash flow, cost and credit, the Government is also strongly supporting business to go digital as a way to move forward and emerge stronger after the pandemic.

D. Digital Transformation

The Government would allocate more than S$500 million to support digital transformation of business in the following aspects:- 

1. Digital Resilience Bonus  – Bonus payout of up to S$10,000 for food services and retail enterprises that adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, plus digital solutions in one or more of these categories:- 

    • Category 1 (S$2,500): Business process solutions  
    • Category 2 (S$2,500): Digital presence such as online food delivery or e-commerce platform 
    • Category 3 (S$5,000): Data-driven operations 

2. Adoption of e-payment – Bonus payout of up to S$1,500 (S$300 per month, over a period of 5 months) for stallholders in hawker centers, wet markets, coffee shops, industrial canteens that adopt the e-payment solutions. The Government will also bear the transaction fees until 31 December 2023.

3. National Innovation Challenge – A total of 6 challenges would be launched on the Open Innovation Platform,with a total of S$90,000 of prize money to be awarded. These are the critical problems that businesses are grappling with as a result of COVID-19, and corporations, startups and others in the private sector are encouraged to come forward to form partnerships to provide industry-led solutions and government will provide support for this innovation drive.


We encourage our clients and all business owners to consider the opportunities presented by the available reliefs and financing support to keep your business going and emerge stronger after the pandemic. If there is one key learnings from COVID-19 that businesses can draw upon is that digitalisation is the way to go for future survival and growth.

Digitalisation involves integrating digital technology into all areas of the business, implementing digital strategy where processes and capabilities are constantly evolving based on changes in circumstances or inputs from customers, using new capabilities to continue creating value and delivering better experience to customers, making business decision proactively based on intelligence and act swiftly in dynamic situations.

Contact us if you require more information regarding the financial reliefs or if you want to start digitizing your accounting and administrative processes now.