More than 40,000 small businesses affected by Covid-19 measures receive $132m in cash support

SINGAPORE – More than 40,000 small businesses, including hawkers and market stallholders, received about $132 million in total last week from a government grant that supports firms affected by Covid-19 safe management measures.

The Small Business Recovery Grant was announced during the Budget in February as part of the $500 million Jobs and Business Support Package.

The recovery grant provides one-off cash support to small businesses in sectors most affected by Covid-19 safe management measures last year, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore on Monday (June 27).

These include businesses in the retail, food and beverage, as well as the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Eligible businesses received $1,000 for each Singapore citizen or permanent resident employee with mandatory Central Provident Fund contributions employed from Nov 1 to Dec 31 last year, capped at $10,000 per firm.

Eligible sole proprietorships, partnerships, as well as hawkers, market and coffee shop stallholders licensed by the Singapore Food Agency also received a payout of $1,000 even if they did not employ any workers during that period.

To qualify for the grant, a firm needs to be physically present in Singapore and registered before Dec 31 last year, among other criteria.

Other requirements include employing fewer than 200 employees as at Dec 31 last year, or having an annual operating revenue of less than $100 million.

Association of Small and Medium Enterprises vice-president  Ang Yuit said the grant, along with other support measures, given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tackle the pandemic is a welcome move, especially for small businesses with smaller reserves to weather the difficult challenges brought on by Covid-19.

He added: “While, in many cases, (the grant) was only a fraction of the loss in revenue (suffered), it still helped SMEs facing cashflow situations, and reinforced the Government’s partnership approach in tackling the pandemic together.”

CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun said such support measures can help to save jobs and allow businesses to continue operating during trying times.

Businesses are also facing challenges such as rising costs now, he added.

He said: “Any help given to businesses and households during uncertain times… is good.”

As at the end of last year, Singapore has about 280,000 SMEs, according to government data.

SMEs accounted for 70 per cent of employment and made up 99 per cent of all enterprises in 2020.