Companies Call for Rent Increases, Wage Support, and Loan Moratoriums Amid Tightening Covid-19 Measures, Economy News & Top Stories

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SINGAPORE – Several business associations have asked for help in areas such as rent reductions, wage support and a loan moratorium. as Singapore tightens up amid a resurgence of Covid-19 infection in the community.

On Wednesday (July 21st), the Alliance of Advanced Business Trade Associations identified these three means by which it seeks support to ensure the sustainability of businesses in the retail, food and beverage (F&B) and services sectors.

He urged landlords to provide rental discounts commensurate with the impact on income when the tighter restrictions were imposed. He is also seeking wage support from the government to help businesses keep as many jobs for Singaporeans as possible.

Finally, he asked for an extension of the moratorium on principal payments on bank loans until June 2022.

The alliance’s announcement came the day after Singapore announced that it would return to a second phase (heightened alert) from Thursday to August 18.

Under these measures, food and beverage outlets will be banned and operators will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services.

The production capacity of shopping centers will be reduced, from a maximum capacity of 10 sq. m total area per person up to 16 sq. m per person.

A support package for businesses and workers affected by the high alert phase since Thursday is in development and details will be announced shortlyTreasury Secretary Lawrence Wong announced this in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The alliance includes Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Asme), Singapore Restaurant Association (RAS), Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) and Singapore United Tenants for Equity (SGTUFF).

At a virtual press conference on Wednesday, SGTUFF Chairman Terence Yow said that “landlords provided very sporadic and selective assistance,” and that the last time significant assistance was provided was last year when it was government-sanctioned.

“The vast majority of advanced businesses have not received significant rental support from landlords, most of the rental assistance (comes) from the government, and that will happen next month,” he said.

RAS President Andrew Kwan noted that the food and beverage industry has experienced a roller coaster that has changed nutritional levels and allowances over the past 16 months.

When asked if the latest measures could lead to the drowning of the industry, he said that, as in other sectors, many operators have reached the point where their reserves are completely depleted.

“If the industry is (left) on its own, I think a lot of them will face a shutdown, and overall it won’t be a good thing, because not only is the company going down, but it is pulling all employees along as well.”

Recognizing that there have already been casualties in the industry despite various support measures provided earlier, Mr Kwan said the industry is likely to consolidate and there is a need for a new business model that builds on the lessons learned from the past 1.5 of the year.

SRA President R. Dhinakaran, who is the managing director of fashion distributor Jay Gee Melwani Group, also called for higher wages through the Workplace Support Program during the upcoming High Readiness Phase, as well as tax exemptions on foreign workers to help lower costs. labor force.

The Association of Retailers, in a separate statement on Facebook, asked for the waiver of fees on foreign workers by the end of 2021 and for at least 50% rental support from landlords.

Business support through August 18 is expected to be based on a reference from support provided in previous phase two (high availability period) from May 16 to June 13.

Small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations that are tenants of private commercial real estate were eligible for a direct half-month cash rent payment for the May high availability period. The benefit will be paid from mid-August.

Qualified tenants in public commercial real estate will receive one month of rental incentives from May 16 to June 13.

Several major landlords, such as CapitaLand and City Developments Limited, have offered various support measures during the period, including rental discounts, rental deferrals, and platform fee waivers.

Affected businesses also received up to 50% wage support through the Workplace Support Program during this period.

Furniture retailer Scanteak, which has 11 retail stores, echoed the call for additional support, noting that its business will inevitably suffer as traffic is expected to decline during this period of heightened availability.

CEO Jamie Lim said two of his landlords provided additional rent during the high alert phase in May. But they were the exception rather than the norm based on the experience of most retail tenants, with most landlords preferring to see the government take action, she added.

Scanteak had planned to expand its physical presence, but those plans are currently changing and will depend on whether they can find a suitable location at the right price, Ms Lim said.

Mr Frank Schön, co-founder of Laut Seafood Bar, said the homeowner granted a month’s rent payment in May during the high alert phase.

He is in talks with his landlord and is trying to figure out what concessions can be made, but plans depend on government announcements, said Mr Shen, who is also a co-founder of American Taproom beer bar.

During a period of high alert in May, revenues of his businesses fell about 65%, although they were taking orders for delivery.

Shen said the high alert phase is “killing a lot of F&B establishments,” which are pretty much careful with safe distancing measures.

“Each restaurant has a different concept. In both of my restaurants, we focus on providing customers with an unforgettable experience. No matter what we do with delivery and takeaway, food will never be the same as dining at a restaurant; reheating is not suitable for all meals, ”said Mr. Shen.

Landlord City Developments Limited (CDL) said in a statement that it will continue to support tenants as Singapore re-enters Phase 2 (increased focus) in areas such as rentals, operations and marketing.

It will also continue to restructure rent for individual tenants, as well as rent flexibility for those facing significant cash flow problems.

CDL said it provided targeted lease support to tenants, including waiver for those that were closed and unable to operate online during an earlier high alert phase from May to June. About 90 percent of its retail tenants received rental assistance, he added.

A CapitaLand spokesman said the company will provide targeted assistance, such as rent restructuring or tenant waiver, as well as marketing support to help tenants continue selling through their digital platforms.

It is also extending the grace period for drivers visiting its malls to 30 minutes from Thursday to facilitate food delivery.





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