As part of Singapore’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will top up the MaritimeSG Together Package by S$3.5 million to continue supporting the hardest hit sectors in the maritime industry. This brings the cumulative amount of support to more than S$36 million. A 50% office rental rebate and new recovery grant for regional ferry service operators (RFOs) and regional ferry terminal operator to build resilience in their operating models will be introduced under the Package from 1 July to 31 December 2021. The Government will also be subsidising mandatory Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) for high-risk maritime workers until 30 September 2021.
The Package which was first introduced in May 2020 and extended in January 2021, provides support for companies, individuals and seafarers during the pandemic. MPA will extend relevant measures under the Package for another six months from 1 July 2021. The support measures being extended include:
- Support for passenger-carrying vessels and passenger terminal operators i.e. SATS-Creuers Cruise Services Pte Ltd (SCCS) and Singapore Cruise Centre (Private) Limited (SCCPL);
- Support for offshore vessel operators;
- Extension of credit terms for maritime companies;
- Manpower support schemes for maritime companies and individuals; and
- Support for Singaporean seafarers.
Enhanced Support for Regional Ferry Service Sector
S$3 million recovery grant for RFOs and regional ferry terminal operator
The regional ferry service sector continues to experience low passenger traffic during the pandemic due to travel restrictions and border control measures. MPA will provide funding support for projects that improve the implementation of safe management measures for safe sea travels and prevention of COVID-19 transmission. Eligible RFOs and SCCPL, the regional ferry terminal operator, will be able to apply for the grant to undertake qualifying projects which commence between 1 July and 31 December 2021. An example of an improvement project would be the development of an electronic seating manifest system to facilitate contact tracing.
50% office rental rebate for RFOs and regional ferry terminal operator
RFOs and SCCPL will qualify for a 50% rental rebate for their offices for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2021. The rebate will be computed based on the latest contractual gross rent as at 30 June 2021.
Extended support for passenger-carrying vessels and passenger terminal operators
In addition, MPA will continue to provide economic relief to passenger vessel owners and operators, as well as passenger terminal operators, in view of prolonged travel restrictions:
- Six-month extension till 31 December 2021 of 50% port dues concession for passenger-carrying vessels, on top of all existing port dues concessions;
- Six-month extension till 31 December 2021 of 50% rebate on counter rental and overnight berthing for regional ferry service operators and their ferries; and
- 100% waiver of public licence fees for passenger terminal operators SCCPL and SCCS for another year, i.e. for the financial year of 2021.
Relief subsidies for mandatory ART testing for high risk maritime workers
MPA had earlier announced increased frequency of rostered routine testing (RRT) of frontline port and regional ferry terminal workers every seven days, as part of additional precautionary measures at the seaport and regional ferry terminals. In addition to RRT, workers are required to take an ART test on the third or fourth day of the 7-day RRT cycle, with costs fully borne by companies or the individual. To alleviate these costs, MPA will fully subsidise the cost of mandatory ART testing for high-risk maritime workers at MPA appointed medical service providers from 5 July to 31 August 2021. Employers are also encouraged to enrol into the Employer-Supervised Self Swab (ESSS) Programme. Under the ESSS programme, workers will swab themselves under the supervision of a trained staff at the workplace. The cost of training and ART kits will be borne by the government until 30 September 2021. From 1 October 2021 onwards, companies and individuals should plan and be prepared to bear the cost of mandatory ART testing.
Together with other precautionary measures such as vaccination of maritime personnel and strict adherence of safe management measures, our seaport continues to be able to service ships calling at Singapore. Under the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE), more than 63,800 workers in the maritime sector have received at least one dose of vaccine. Amongst them, more than 52,900 have been fully vaccinated, including more than 19,200, or 99% of frontline maritime workers who are exposed to higher risks. More than 4,300 foreign seafarers who are working in our port waters have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Support for offshore vessel operators
While reduction in offshore oil and gas activities persists, the sector has started to see gradual improvement. MPA will continue to extend assistance to the offshore sector. The 50% port dues concession for MPA-approved offshore support vessels carrying out Category 4 activity from day 91 to day 180 will be extended until 31 December 2021.
Extension of credit terms for maritime companies
Due to the protracted COVID-19 situation, maritime companies may continue to face cash flow pressures. MPA will continue to extend credit terms of up to an additional 45 days (beyond existing 30 days standard credit terms) until 31 December 2021.
Manpower support schemes for maritime companies and individuals
To encourage companies and individuals to continue upskilling and reskilling, MPA will extend the Internship Reimbursement Scheme and increase in co-funding provided under selected Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) Manpower Development programmes for another six months, until 31 December 2021.
Internship Reimbursement Scheme for maritime companies
MPA had earlier introduced the Internship Reimbursement Scheme to help maritime companies provide students who are Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents with internship opportunities. MPA co-funds 50% of the internship allowance paid by maritime companies, capped at S$500 per month per intern, for up to a maximum period of six months. This scheme will be extended for another six months till 31 December 2021 and will cover internships which commence between 1 May 2020 and 31 December 2021.
Increased co-funding under selected MCF Manpower Development programmes
MPA had earlier increased co-funding support under selected MCF training schemes to up to 90%. This will be extended for another six months till 31 Dec 2021. Eligible courses must commence between 1 May 2020 and 31 December 2021 to qualify for the increased co-funding.
Support for local seafarers
Seafarers Relief Package
Some 500 Singaporean seafarers continue to face uncertainties in securing shipboard employment as border control measures and crew change restrictions are not easing up due to COVID-19. MPA, together with the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen, will extend the Seafarers Relief Package for eligible Singaporean seafarers who are unable to secure shipboard employment between 1 January and 31 December 2021. They can apply to receive up to S$700 per month in financial assistance, for a maximum of six months.
“As COVID-19 is set to become endemic, Maritime Singapore must continue to build its safe management and manpower capabilities to remain resilient. MPA remains committed to supporting maritime companies, individuals and Singaporean seafarers through a further extension of our relief measures,” said Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA.