BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Finance and Economy on Thursday announced revised fiscal measures to help businesses cope with the economic impact of COVID-19, including a wage subsidy, utilities subsidy and social security contributions.
The announcement came as Brunei entered the fifth day of a partial lockdown following a fast-spreading community outbreak.
Similar to interim measures announced in March last year, the relief package is to help businesses stay afloat and prevent job losses due to current COVID restrictions.
Gov’t relief measures, effective from Aug 1 to Dec 31:
• Companies with less than 100 employees can apply for a wage subsidy of 25% for local workers.
• Companies with less than 100 employees can defer TAP and SCP contributions for staff earning less than $1,500 a month. The government will cover the monthly contributions for this period, however the company will be required to pay them back within one year.
• Government will fund SCP contributions for the self-employed.
• 30% subsidy on rental of government buildings.
• 20% subsidy on water and electricity bills.
• 50% subsidy on corporate tax in the 2022 year of assessment.
• Waiving of customs and excise duty on personal hygiene products.
• iReady apprenticeship contracts will be extended until the end of the year.
“Following these measures introduced by government, I call on companies not to lay off workers, especially locals,” said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew, the second minister of finance and economy.
Banking sector to offer loan deferments
In addition, the Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB) announced it will provide regulatory flexibility to encourage banks and financial institutions to provide temporary relief to affected businesses, subject to their assessment.
The temporary assistance includes:
• Deferring loan repayments.
• Restructuring personal loans and hire-purchase agreements such as car financing for a period not exceeding 10 years.
• Converting credit card debt into a short-term loan for a period no longer than three years for affected individuals, including the self-employed.
• Waiving fees and charges for financing facilities, as well as interbank transfers.
According to the central bank, some 436 applications for assistance were approved between April and June 2020, mostly asking for deferment of monthly loan repayments.
BDCB said a total of 2,014 applications for assistance were granted between April to December last year.
For more information on relief measures from the banking sector, the public can contact their respective banks or BDCB at 8318388 or via email at email@example.com.