Citi Singapore to return wage support funding to the government

CITI Singapore will return the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) funding - intended to provide companies with wage support to buffer against the impact of Covid-19 - to the Singapore government. 

"We have made a decision to give back the JSS funding to the Singapore government. We feel it is the right time to signal that companies like Citi are here for the long term, and that the well-being of the larger community in Singapore matters to us," said Citi Asean head and Singapore CEO Amol Gupte in an internal memo to staff as seen by The Business Times on Thursday. 

"Considering the large workforce that we have, this was a big decision and we hope it will make a significant impact on our community," he said.

The exact amount was not released in the internal memo. But about 80 per cent of Citi's total headcount of some 8,500 employees here are Singapore citizens or permanent residents (PRs), which will bring JSS funding to tens of millions for an MNC such as Citi.  

Under the JSS scheme, the government co-funds a percentage of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee (Singapore citizens and PRs) for nine months from April in four tranches. 

For employers in sectors other than aviation, tourism, and food services, the government will co-fund 25 per cent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages per local employee in most months. This works out to a maximum of S$1,150 per local employee per month.

But to be clear, the JSS co-funding support in April and May 2020 will be 75 per cent for all sectors.

More than S$20 billion has been committed under the JSS. Some 140,000 employers in Singapore are expected to receive S$4 billion in the next JSS payout. 

Mr Gupte noted that giving back the JSS funding means that individuals, families and companies who have a "far greater need" for assistance can benefit from it.

"My management team and I have taken this unanimous decision to return the JSS and have conveyed this to the Singapore government. I know each one of you will support us in this big decision we have taken," said Mr Gupte.  

Cit has also taken several other virus support measures to assist its clients, employees and the wider community. These includes the extension of the industry-wide Singapore Financial Relief Programme to clients, and a special compensation to select employees who may experience economic hardship during this challenging period.

The bank is also providing support to a community partner for their relief programme to deliver food and groceries to more than 750 beneficiaries from low-income, elderly and migrant worker groups over a three-month period.