Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced measures to deal with challenges such as the coronavirus outbreak and long-term economic development on 18th February 2020. Key summary covering support packages to all business, Singaporean and financial institutions are as follows:

–        Stabilisation and Support Package in tune to S$ 4Billion to stabilise the economy and support businesses with cash flow and workers to stay in jobs

–        A special Care and Support Package in tune to S$ 1.6 billion to provide additional, timely help to more households, specifically not well-off, with cost of living.

–        Focus is also on Transformation and Growth effort, costing $8.3 billion over three years, will support Singapore longer-term plans to position Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation, and enterprise.

–        As well as some additional support to sectors directly affected by the outbreak which are tourism, aviation, retail, food services, and point-to-point transport services.

–        Several key proposals with regard to the Extension and Enchantments for, the tax incentives for venture capital funds and venture capital fund management companies, the Finance and Treasury Centre (“FTC”) scheme, the WHT exemption for interest on margin deposits and for insurance businesses has been announced. MAS and Enterprise Singapore will provide further details in coming months.

Details of the above summary is given below:

STABILISATION AND SUPPORT PACKAGE – S$4 billion

HELPING BUSINESSES TO KEEP THE WORKERS EMLOYMENT ON:

A Jobs Support Scheme worth S$1.3 billion. This aims to help firms retain local workers – more than 1.9 million Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) ;  

  • Employers will receive an 8% cash grant on the gross monthly wages of each local employee on their Central Provident Fund payroll for the months of October to December.
  • This is subject to a monthly wage cap of S$3,600 per worker.
  • Payment to the employers will be made by end-July.
  • Wages paid to business owners will not be eligible for the grant.

An enhancement of the Wage Credit Scheme work S$ 1.1 billion, The scheme currently co-funds wage increases for Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of up to S$4,000.

  • This will be raised to S$5,000 for qualifying wage increases given in 2019 and 2020 to benefit more Singaporean workers.
  • The Government co-funding levels will also be increased by 5 percentage points to 20 per cent and 15 per cent for 2019 and 2020, respectively.
  • More than 700,000 Singaporeans employed by 90,000 enterprises will benefit from these enhancements said Mr Heng.

       

HELP BUSINESSES WITH CASH FLOW

Corporate Income Tax Rebate:

  • There will be a corporate income tax rebate for the year of assessment 2020 at a rate of 25 per cent of tax payable, and capped at S$15,000 per company.
  • This move, which will benefit all tax-paying firms, will cost the Government about S$400 million.

Special enhancements for a year, for several tax treatments under the corporate tax system:

  • Enterprises will be allowed a faster write-down of their investments in plant and machinery, and renovation and refurbishment, incurred for the year of assessment 2021

Working capital assistance enhancements, the Enterprise Financing Scheme’s Working Capital Loan component will be doubled from S$300,000 to S$600,000as maximum for  a year, the Government’s risk-share will also be increased to 80 per cent, from the current 50 to 70 per cent.

The Government will also support tenants and lessees of Government-managed properties with more flexible rental payments, such as instalment plans. Each request will be assessed individually, taking into account the firm’s circumstances, said Mr Heng

ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR DIRECTLY-IMPACTED SECTOR

The novel coronavirus has directly affected sectors, such as tourism, aviation, retail, food services and point-to-point transport services:

  • To assist businesses to retain and reskill workers, the Adapt and Grow initiative will be enhanced this year, specifically through redeployment programmes.
  • The funding period for re-skilling of workers will be extended from three months to a maximum of six months.

Operating costs and cash flow assistance to these sectors:

  • Tourism sector, a property tax rebate of 30 per cent for the year 2020 will be granted to the accommodation and function room components of licensed hotels and serviced apartments, and three Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) venues like the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Singapore Expo and the Changi Exhibition Centre.
  • International cruise and regional ferry terminals will receive a 15 per cent property tax rebate, while the integrated resorts will receive a 10 per cent rebate.
  • Firms in the tourism sector can also look forward to a temporary bridging loan programme for additional cash flow support.
  • Under this programme, eligible enterprises can borrow up to S$1 million with the interest rate capped at 5 per cent per annum from participating financial institutions. The Government will provide 80 per cent risk-share of these loans. The programme will start in March and will be available for a year.
  • For the aviation sector, the Government will grant a 15 per cent property tax rebate for Changi Airport, alongside a suite of measures including rebates on aircraft landing and parking charges, assistance to ground handling agents and rental rebates for shops and cargo agents at Changi Airport.
  • To support firms in the food services and retail business, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will provide a full month’s rental waiver to stallholders in NEA-managed hawker centres and markets. Other government agencies, like the HDB, will provide half a month of rental waiver to its commercial tenants.
  • A 15 per cent property tax rebate will also be granted to qualifying commercial properties, landlords has been urged to pass this on to their tenants by reducing rentals. 
  • For the transport sector, authorities already announced a S$77 million Point-to-Point Support Package for taxi and private-hire car drivers last week. The Government will contribute S$45 million towards the package, with the remaining provided by taxi and private-hire car operators.

GST HIKE DELAYED

GST remain same as 7% in 2021.

A S$6 billion Assurance Package for Singaporeans will be introduced at time of increase

Under the Assurance Package for GST, every adult Singaporean will receive a cash payout of $700 to $1,600 over five years.

CARE AND SUPPORT PACKAGE – S$ 1.6 billion

The S$1.6 billion Care and Support Package for all Singaporeans to get some cash as assistance during this period of uncertainty, the main assistance includes:

  • Aged 21 and above: One-off cash pay out of S$300, S$200 and S$100, depending on income and/or property ownership
  • For those with at least one child aged 20 and below: A further S$100 cash payout
  • For those aged 50 and above: S$100 Passion Card top-up (you can get a card for free if you don’t have one yet)
  • There’ll also be other support measures, including grocery vouchers worth S$100 a year in 2020 and 2021 for qualifying Singaporeans, as well as enhanced GST Voucher-U-Save rebates.

SKILLS FUTURE CREDIT

There’ll be a one-off SkillsFuture Credit top-up of S$500 for every Singaporean aged 25 and above in 2020, available from Oct 1 this year.

If you’re a mid-career worker – i.e. those in their 40s and 50s – you get extra credit, with an additional S$500 top-up for every Singaporean aged between 40 and 60 in 2020 (again, it’ll expire in about five years).

The authorities will also introduce additional measures to help these workers, including a salary support hiring incentive for employers to hire local jobseekers aged 40 and above.

Top up will expire in 5 years.

TAX INCENTIVES EXTENSION AND ENHANCMENT FOR VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDS AND VENTURE CAPITAL FUND MANAGEMENT COMPANIES:

Encouraging venture capital funding for Singapore-based companies, the Section 13H scheme and Fund Management Incentive will be extended until 31 December 2025.

Key improvements in the incentive plans;

Section 13H scheme:

  • The list of investments and income incentivised under the Section 13H scheme will be expanded to include relevant items of the Specified Income – Designated Investments list applicable for fund incentives Under Sections 13CA, 13R and 13X of the ITA
  • The Section 13H incentive may be granted to venture capital funds which are constituted as foreign-incorporated companies or Singapore Variable Capital Companies, apart from companies incorporated in Singapore and partnerships
  • The statutory sub-limit imposing a maximum tenure of 10 years for the first tranche of the tax exemption will be removed, while the 15-year cap on the overall tenure of the tax exemption status remains. This means that the tax exemption may be awarded for the fund life of the venture capital fund, up to a total tenure of 15 years; 
  • Approved venture capital funds will be allowed, by way of remission, to claim GST incurred on their expenses at a fixed recovery rate to be determined for the industry; and

Fund Management Incentive:

  • Statutory limitations on the total incentive tenure allowed for each venture capital fund management company will be removed. Instead, each Fund Management Incentive award for the fund manager will be set at a maximum tenure of 5 years, and can be renewed subject to conditions.
  • The above changes will take effect from 1 April 2020. Enterprise Singapore will provide further details of the changes by May 2020

EXTEND AND ENHANCE THE FINANCE AND TREASURY CENTRE (“FTC”) SCHEME

To continue encouraging finance and treasury activities in Singapore, the FTC schedule will be extended till 31 December 2026, with the following enhancements from 19 February 2020:

  • The list of qualifying sources of funds will be expanded to include funds raised via convertible debt issued on or after 19 February 2020; and   
  • The list of qualifying FTC activities will be expanded to include transacting or investing into private equity or venture capital funds that are not structured as companies. Income derived on or after 19 February 2020 by approved FTCs from this activity will qualify for the concessionary tax rate.

ENHANCE THE WHT EXEMPTION FOR INTEREST ON MARGIN DEPOSITS

To further develop Singapore’s derivative market, the scope of the WHT exemption for interest on margin deposits will be enhanced to cover the following entities and products, the enhancements are indicated in bold font. :

Covered entities:

  • Members of approved exchanges
  • Members of approved clearing houses;
  • Approved exchanges; and
  • Approved clearing houses

Covered products

  • Spot foreign exchange (other than those involving Singapore dollar);
  • Financial futures;
  • Gold futures; and
  • All other derivative contracts traded or cleared on approved exchanges and approved clearing houses.

The enhancements will apply for agreements entered into on or after 19 February 2020. The extension of the WHT exemption will be reviewed together with the other WHT exemptions for the financial sector, before 31 December 2022.MAS will provide further details of the changes by May 2020.

EXTEND TAX INCENTIVE SCHEMES FOR INSURANCE BUSINESSES

To support Singapore’s value proposition as an Asian insurance and reinsurance centre, the IBD and IBD-CI schemes will be extended until 31 December 2025. The concessionary tax rate remains at 10%.

To streamline and simplify the IBD umbrella scheme, the IBD-MHL scheme will lapse after 31 March 2020. With the lapsing of the IBD-MHL scheme, insurers engaged in the MHL insurance and reinsurance business will be incentivised under the IBD scheme.

To align the tenure of all awards under the IBD umbrella scheme, all new and renewal IBD scheme awards approved on or after 1 April 2020 will be granted for a period of 5 years.

MAS will provide further details of the changes by May 2020.

Tax Changes for Business

  • Corporate Tax rebate of 25% capped at $15,000 for the year of assessment (YA) 2020 to help companies reduce their tax liabilities.
  • Additional 2 months interest free instalments for Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) file from 19 February to 31 December.
  • Increase the number of YAs for which the current year unabsorbed capital allowances (“CA”) and trade losses for a YA (collectively referred to as “qualifying deductions”) may be carried back. Under the enhanced carry-back relief scheme for YA2020, qualifying deductions for YA2020 may be carried back up to 3 immediate preceding YAs, capped at $100,000 of qualifying deductions and subject to conditions. 
  • Company can opt to accelerate the write-off of the cost of acquiring plant and machinery (“P&M”) over 2 years. In addition to Section 19 and 19A. The rates of accelerated CA allowed are as follows:
  1. 75% of the cost incurred to be written off in the first year (i.e. YA2021); and,
  2. 25% of the cost incurred to be written off in the second year (i.e. YA2022)
  • Company can opt to accelerate the deduction of expenses incurred on renovation and refurbishment (“R&R”) In addition to Section 14Q. The option to claim R&R deduction in 1 YA (i.e. accelerated R&R deduction). The cap of $300,000 for every relevant period of 3 consecutive YAs will still apply. If exercised, this option is irrevocable.
  • Extend and enhance the Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (“DTDi”) scheme till 31 December 2025
  • Extend the Mergers & Acquisitions (“M&A”) scheme till 31 December 2025
  • Streamline the number of years of working life of P&M for CA claims under Section 19 and the Sixth Schedule of the ITA. Business can choose to claim annual allowance over 6, 12 or 16 years. This is applicable for P&M acquired in or after FY2022.

In brief, this Singapore Budget 2020 not only help Singapore people to deal with short term challenges but also enables Singaporeans and Business to continue to innovate and thrive. Singapore Budget 2020 is expected to have deficit at S$10.9b which have not seen for long however with plunging into past reserves.

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