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Speech at G20 Extraordinary Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting 2020

Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo

“Action Against the Impact of COVID-19 on Global Labour Markets”

  1. Singapore would like to thank the Saudi Presidency for your leadership in responding so quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic and organising this timely meeting.
  2. I also thank the ILO, OECD, and World Bank for sharing your insights.
  3. Since the start of this crisis, the Singapore Government has been doing all we can to address the enormous impact on businesses and workers. 
  4. First, we put in place extraordinary budget measures.
    • Our immediate priority is to save jobs, support our workers, and protect livelihoods. 
    • The total budgetary support is now over US$45 Billion, or more than 12% of our GDP.  
    • More than a third of it is dedicated to job and wage support.  
    • The Singapore Government is paying companies 75% of all their workers’ wages, through our Jobs Support Scheme. For the rest of the year, we have committed to pay at least 25%.  
  5. Second, we are providing more support for our most vulnerable workers.
    • Lower-wage workers will each get extra payments amounting to US$2,100.  
    • The majority of self-employed workers will receive Income Relief of US$6,300 each.
  6. In particular, I want to highlight Singapore’s position regarding our migrant workers.  
  7. In South-East Asia alone, there are about 10 million migrant workers.  A fraction of them, less than 1 million, are in Singapore. 
  8. Right from the start, we have made clear our commitment to look after them.  We appreciate their contributions and we have always believed that we have a responsibility towards them.
  9. Let me outline our two priorities for our migrant workers:
    • The first is to take care of their health and safety.
      • We are testing and isolating everyone with acute respiratory symptoms. We probably test migrant workers more than anyone else and the numbers show that. If a worker tests positive, we will help him recover. In fact, most of these workers have mild symptoms and they are on the path to recovery. The Government bears all the costs for testing and treatment. 
    • Second, we will also take care of our migrant workers’ livelihoods.
      • We are providing financial support to their employers through rebates or waivers of levies.  
      • The support comes up to US$1800 per worker.
      • This will help employers continue to pay for salaries and upkeep for the next two months, or help the workers to go home if that is their wish.
      • We also help them send money home.
  10. Third, the Singapore Government works closely with our social partners to issue advisories on appropriate and practical measures to guide businesses and employees. 
    • These include reducing non-wage costs and managing excess manpower, as well as safe-distancing measures at the workplace.
  11. Singapore has geared up for a prolonged battle against this pandemic. We are prepared to do more if required. 
  12. We look forward to working together with our international friends to overcome this crisis of a generation. Thank you.