BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Twelve companies have applied for the government’s wage subsidy since COVID-19 relief measures were announced a week ago, according to the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE).

The 25 percent wage subsidy is one of several interim measures introduced by the government to help small and medium enterprises cope with the financial impact brought on by the partial lockdown.

A similar relief package was introduced last year during the first wave of COVID-19.

Companies with fewer than 100 employees can apply for the subsidy any time between August and December, but it only applies to local workers earning less than $1,500 a month.

Speaking during a COVID press conference on Saturday, MoFE’s second minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the 12 companies collectively represent 56 employees eligible for the subsidy.

He added that a further seven companies — representing 70 employees — have applied to defer TAP and SCP contributions for the same five month period. 

The government will cover the monthly pension contributions for this period, however the companies will be required to pay them back within one year.

The financial sector has also extended debt assistance to businesses, including deferral of loan repayments and restructuring of financing.

The Brunei Darussalam Central Bank said that between April and June last year, some 436 applications for assistance were approved between April and June 2020, mostly asking for deferral of monthly loan repayments.

BDCB said a total of 2,014 applications for assistance were granted between April to December last year.