SINGAPORE: Employers in Singapore will receive more than S$600 million in payouts under the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) by Mar 31, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) said on Tuesday (Mar 17).

More than 90,000 employers will receive the payouts, with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) receiving the bulk of the payouts – about 70 per cent of the total sum disbursed.

Through the WCS payouts in March, the Government will co-fund qualifying wage increases for more than 700,000 Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of up to S$4,000.

The March payouts will offset 15 per cent of qualifying wage increases in 2019, 2018 and 2017 for these employees.

In Budget 2020, it was announced that the gross monthly wage ceiling will be raised from S$4,000 to S$5,000 for qualifying pay increases in 2019 and 2020.

The Government co-funding levels will also be raised from the current 15 per cent for 2019 and 10 per cent for 2020, to 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Employers eligible for the Budget 2020 enhancements for 2019 wage increases will receive a supplementary payout in the second half of 2020.

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Employers do not need to apply to receive the WCS payouts. Eligible employers will receive letters from IRAS by Mar 31 informing them of the amount they will receive this month.

The money will be credited to the employers’ registered bank account through PayNow Corporate or GIRO.

“In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation efforts, IRAS will fully adopt digital payment modes for WCS payouts, and will no longer issue cheques,” said the authorities.

Appeals regarding WCS payouts must be submitted to IRAS by Jun 30, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The WCS enhancements are part of a S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package rolled out in the Budget to support workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy have worsened since the package was announced. 

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said last week that the Government has started working on a second stimulus package.

READ: More wage support, direct rental rebates on businesses’ wish list for second relief package

Official data released on Tuesday indicated that non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell 4.8 per cent on a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis in February as total trade declined by 8.6 per cent over the month.

“Given the economic uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 situation”, the National Wages Council (NWC) will convene earlier than usual this year on Tuesday to discuss annual guidelines on wage and employment-related issues, said the Manpower Ministry.

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