Govt error leads to over S$370m wage support wrongly disbursed to 5,760 firms

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Singapore – Over S$370 million in wage support was wrongly distributed by the Government to some 5,400 companies after using the wrong dates to determine the amount to be paid, while around 2,300 firms remain underpaid.

As a result of the incorrect tagging of businesses’ reopening dates following the circuit breaker period, excess Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts amounting to about S$370 million were credited to some 5,400 businesses in October 2020, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a press release on Thursday (Apr 8).

The amount constitutes about six per cent of the JSS payouts in October 2020 and about 3.6 per cent of all firms which received JSS payouts, noted MTI.

Another 360 companies had excess levy waivers and rebates amounting to an estimated S$1.2 million granted to them in June and July 2020.

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About 1,200 businesses have also been identified as eligible for additional foreign worker (FW) levy waiver and rebate amounting to S$6 million, while 1,100 firms are eligible for additional JSS payouts amounting to S$5.5 million.

The Inland Revenue and Authority of Singapore (IRAS) first detected the anomalies in November 2020 as part of its regular processing checks on the JSS. Furthermore, several businesses also informed IRAS of the excess amount received.

In December 2020, the cause of the overpayments was subsequently traced to discrepancies in companies’ reopening dates.

MTI then began an extensive investigation with other agencies and concluded that there had been errors in the compilation and processing of business re-opening dates, which was used to compute the JSS payouts and determine businesses’ eligibility for levy waiver and rebate, the press release noted.

MTI added that of the S$370 million, about S$340 million or over 90 per cent would be recovered through automatic offsets from following payouts (about S$140 million) and the commitment of the larger affected businesses contacted by MTI and other agencies to return the excess payment of about S$200 million.

For now, no action is required from the affected businesses. IRAS will first offset the excess amount against the businesses’ future JSS payouts. Instalment payment arrangements are also available for companies that require them.

MTI and MOM will inform affected businesses of any follow-up actions required by May 2021.

The press release highlighted that MTI has worked with MOF, MOM and IRAS to rectify the processes and instituted additional checks to detect and flag possible errors./TISG

Read related: Businesses to see an extension in the Job Support Scheme, with a push to hire locals

Businesses to see an extension in the Job Support Scheme, with a push to hire locals

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