SINGAPORE: Acknowledging that labour-intensive industries in the country continue to face manpower shortage, the Singapore government on Tuesday extended a SGD 250 per foreign worker levy rebate till March next year, a move which will help out about 15,000 companies dependent on imported workers.
Employers in the construction, marine shipyards and process sectors (CMP) can consider using the rebate to retain existing workers and bring in work permit holders from lower-risk (COVID-19) countries or regions, the Manpower Ministry said a in statement.
Singapore draws most of the foreign labours from India, Bangladesh and China.
The ministry said the CMP sectors continue to face significant manpower shortages and increased costs due to the evolving COVID-19 situation.
The extension is expected to help about 15,000 firms, the Channel News Asia reported.
The rebate, introduced last year to help the sectors tide over the challenges caused by COVID-19, was due to expire this month.
The extension was announced amid a pick-up in the inflow of workers in these sectors in recent weeks.
As such, a decision will be made "closer to March 2022" after ascertaining if there is a need to further extend the rebate, The Straits Times reported, citing the ministry statement.
In the meantime, the ministry has encouraged companies "to press on with longer-term productivity improvements to become more manpower-lean and resilient against future manpower disruptions".
Also, an existing waiver of the foreign worker levy for all foreign workers, including maids, will be extended till December next year.
The waiver was also due to end this month.
The levy will be waived for the duration of their stay-home notices and residential onboarding programme at migrant worker onboarding centres.
The extension can help employers manage the costs associated with border measures and safeguards, the ministry said.
Separately, authorities said over SGD 400 million in Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts will be disbursed to about 24,400 employers from Dec 31 to support the wages of more than 380,000 local employees in sectors facing significant safe management restrictions.
"With this payout, more than SGD28 billion of JSS support would have been disbursed since the introduction of the scheme at the Unity Budget in February 2020," the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) said in a press release on Tuesday.
The JSS subsidises the salaries of Singaporeans and permanent residents to help companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers who have made mandatory Central Provident Fund contributions for their local employees for the months of August to October 2021 by the stipulated deadlines will qualify to receive the payout.