News: Budget 2020: Government unveils measures to fight climate change, support sectors affected by outbreak

Feb 19, 2020

HDB will also roll out a new Green Towns Programme to recycle rainwater, reduce energy consumption and cool the towns. Photo: Artist’s impression of Tengah new town, which will be Singapore’s first ‘Forest Town’. Image source: HDB.

The Singapore government introduced a slew of measures in one of its most expansionary budgets. These include measures to battle against climate change and support sectors that are most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

In its fight against climate change, the government will set up a coastal and flood protection fund, which will have an initial injection of $5 billion. The amount will be topped up when possible, reported The Straits Times.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will also roll out a new Green Towns Programme to recycle rainwater, reduce energy consumption and cool the towns.

This will ensure that sustainable living is a key feature of HDB estates, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who delivered the Budget speech on Tuesday (18 February).

READ: Revealed: The Top 10 Best-Selling Projects in January 2020

He noted that it was critical to mobilise a collective effort by citizens to address the threat of climate change. One such instance is one’s choice of household appliances, he added.

To encourage more families to buy energy-efficient household appliances, incentives will be given to lower-income households to help with such costs.

“To deal with climate change, we have to foster a climate of change in our community, where everyone, whether as an individual, as a business leader, or as a community leader, makes conscious decisions to lower our carbon footprint.”

In a bid to phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2040, an additional rebate will be given to early adopters of electric vehicles (EVs). With this, those purchasing fully electric taxis and cars will enjoy a 45% rebate on the additional registration fee. The rebate will begin in January 2021, for a period of three years.

EVs and some hybrid vehicles will also have lower taxes, as the tax methodology for cars will be revised from next January.

Meanwhile, the five sectors directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak – namely, retail, tourism, food services, aviation and point-to-point transport services – will receive additional support for their cash flow and operating costs as well as to re-skill and retain workers.

Hotels, serviced apartments and meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (Mice) venues will get a 30% property tax rebate for 2020, while international cruise and regional ferry terminals will enjoy a 15% property tax rebate. Integrated resorts, on the other hand, will receive a 10% property tax rebate.

A Temporary Bridging Loan Programme will be introduced to offer additional cash-flow support for companies within the tourism sector.

Retail and food services establishments will also get support, with about $45 million in rental waivers for hawkers within National Environment Agency-managed hawker centres as well as markets and commercial tenants of government agencies.

Those operating in qualified commercial properties will receive a 15% property tax rebate, with the landlords encouraged to pass on the rebate to their tenants.

The government, the Changi Airport Group and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will also co-fund an Aviation Sector Assistance Package totalling $112 million to provide companies affected by the virus outbreak some relief.

This includes companies in the cargo industry, airlines and other airport stakeholders like Changi Airport’s retail and food and beverage tenants, which will also get a 15% property tax rebate.

The government will extend the funding support duration for the re-skilling of workers in these sectors, from three months to a maximum of six months. It will also support employers in these sectors to train and retain over 330,000 local workers.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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