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SINGAPORE: Regulations for Property Owners on Passing on Tax Rebates to Tenants

In response to the commercial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Resilience Budget was announced to grant property tax rebates for qualifying properties for the period of 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020. While the owners of such properties would receive the rebate, owners are expected to pass on the benefit of the rebate to their tenants, if any.

On 13 May 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") came into operation. The Regulations provide further details on how owners are to pass on the rebate, including: (i) the formulae for determining the prescribed amount of benefit that must be passed on to the tenant; (ii) the prescribed manner and time for passing on the benefit; and (iii) the information to be provided to the tenant. In this Update, we highlight the key points of the Regulations that property owners should take note of.

Singapore | Support Measures | 15 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Contracts between Housing Developers and Buyers Added to Scope of COVID-19 Temporary Relief

On 13 May 2020, the Government announced amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Relief for Inability to Perform Contracts) Regulations 2020 (collectively, "Updated Regulations"). The new amendments allow property purchasers of a unit in a housing accommodation from housing developers to obtain temporary relief for their inability to perform their obligations under:

• an option given by a housing developer to an intending property purchaser, and/or

• a sale and purchase agreement between a housing developer and a property purchaser

This Update highlights the key features and implications of the Updated Regulations.

Singapore | Support Measures | 15 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: BSP Grants Relief Measures to Manage the Financial Impact of COVID-19, Temporarily Suspends Administrative Proceedings, and Issues Guidelines for the Implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (“BSP”) Monetary Board has approved the granting of relief measures to BSP-supervised financial institutions (“BSFIs”) to enable them to extend the same relief measures to their clients, borrowers, and employers in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) imposed by the Philippine government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. The BSP also temporarily suspended proceedings of administrative cases at the BSP’s Office of the General Counsel and Legal Services-Investigation and Prosecution Group due to the Luzon-wide ECQ. It likewise directed all BSFIs to comply with Section 4(aa) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

On April 24, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until May 15, 2020.

Philippines | Support Measures | 14 May 2020
INDONESIA: The Urge to Merge: OJK Regulations Encourages Merger Between Banks

Following the enactment of Government Regulation in lieu of Law No. 1 of 2020, Indonesia's financial services authority, the OJK, has enacted several regulations designed to safeguard the stability of the financial system and deal with the threat of an economic crisis.

In this update, we will discuss OJK Regulation No. 18/POJK/03/2020 on Written Order to Handle Problematic Banks ("POJK 18/2020") and OJK Regulation No. 12/POJK.03/2020 on the Consolidation of Commercial Banks ("POJK 12/2020") in the context of the banking sector. While POJK 18/2020 was issued in the context of the current coronavirus crisis, POJK 12/2020 has been on OJK's radar before the pandemic.

Indonesia | Support Measures | 13 May 2020
SINGAPORE: Temporary Relief Measures against Disruptions Caused by COVID-19 and 'Circuit Breaker' Measures for Eligible Property Developers & Married Couples

On 6 May 2020, the Singapore Government announced temporary relief measures for eligible property developers and married couples affected by the COVID-19 'circuit breaker' measures. Eligible property developers will be granted six months' extension of time to comply with the regulatory and authority-imposed timelines / deadlines, including completing the construction of the development projects and selling the units being built, while eligible married couples purchasing a second residential property will be granted an additional six months to sell their first residential property so as to be eligible for a remission of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty paid on the second property. In this Update, we look at the key elements of these temporary relief measures, as well as their efficacy for property developers.

 

Singapore | Support Measures | 08 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Further Extends Deadlines, Suspends Assessment, and Collection of Deficiency Taxes Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Bureau of Internal Revenue ("BIR") previously issued Revenue Regulations No. 007-2020, as amended by Revenue Regulations No. 010-2020, extending the deadline for the submission and/or filing of certain documents and/or returns as well as payment of certain taxes. On 29 April 2020, BIR issued Revenue Regulations No. 011-2020  further extending the deadlines to submit, file and/or pay the necessary documents and/or taxes required under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, as well as in the existing revenue regulations.  The extension of due dates is applicable throughout the Philippines. 

Philippines | Support Measures | 07 May 2020
PHILIPPINES: Extension of Deadlines of Payment Obligations and Submission Requirements, and Implementation of Other Measures to Provide Relief to Electricity Consumers

The Department of Energy ("DOE") extended the deadlines for the payment of certain obligations in the energy supply chain, such as those due to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO), the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP) and the Independent Electricity Market Operator (IEMOP), and also directed public and private corporations in the energy supply chain to extend the payment deadlines of their customers.  The DOE also issued guidelines for the remittance and utilization of host community funds for a targeted COVID-19 response and directed the grant of relief to electricity consumers, both individual and corporate.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also extended the deadlines for the payment of certain obligations in the energy supply chain, and also the submission of certain documents, and directed other energy sector participants to similarly extend certain payment deadlines.  It temporarily suspended the collection of the feed-in tariff allowance (Fit-All) and granted interim relief to the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP) that will effectively reduce the transmission tariff borne by electricity consumers.

Philippines | Support Measures | 07 May 2020
CAMBODIA: Control and Support Measures in Cambodia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In combatting the spread of COVID-19 in Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) first started to issue travel restrictions on a selective basis, targeting travellers coming from countries or region most hard-hit by COVID-19, which included the European countries, the United States of America and Iran. As the situation continues to worsen, the RGC has sought to impose travel restrictions on all inbound foreign travellers by requiring them to fulfil a set of conditions before they can be allowed to enter the country.

In addition, the RGC has issued various measures aimed at alleviating the burden of local businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cambodia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
CHINA: Control and Support Measures in China Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

China is at a different stage in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, the COVID-19 pandemic in China has been under control, but China is at the stage of preventing the virus from being imported and the potential occurrence of a second wave of infections. Most of the lockdown and movement control measures in China have been lifted, including the lockdown of Hubei Province (except for Wuhan City),  which ended on 25 March 2020. The lockdown of Wuhan City (the epicentre of the outbreak) ended on 8 April 2020. Currently, most of the businesses in China have resumed normal production and operations or are in the process of resuming normal production and operations, subject to certain relevant local rules such as the working space and safe social distancing requirements.

The central government of China has released temporary policies, reliefs and guidelines to support businesses affected by the pandemic. The ministries of the central government and the local governments have also issued temporary policies and reliefs in accordance with the guidelines issued by the central government.

 

China | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
INDONESIA: Control and Support Measures in Indonesia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Indonesian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been steadily intensifying in the past weeks. Pursuant to Regulation of the DKI Jakarta Governor No. 33 of 2020 and Decree No. 380 of 2020, Jakarta became the first province in Indonesia to impose massive social restriction. This is evidenced by the closing of schools, offices except for those conducting essential services) and places of worship, passenger’s limitation for public and personal transportation and prohibition of mass gathering. By mid-April, President Joko Widodo declared COVID-19 as a non-natural national disaster, which obliges the governors, regents, and mayors of the various regions in Indonesia to establish policies in line with this declaration. West Java and Tangerang soon followed Jakarta’s lead and declared a massive social restriction in their respective regions.

On the business side, the government has begun setting the stage to allow public institutions to introduce future measures to ensure that business can go on as usual.

Indonesia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
LAO PDR: Control and Support Measures in Lao PDR Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister issued the Order on Reinforcement Measures on Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Order"). Pursuant to the Order, restrictions were imposed on movement and gatherings, and employees (other than those in essential services) were required to work from home for the period from 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020. The Order had been extended to 3 May 2020. 

Even before the Order was issued, the Bank of Lao PDR ("BOL") had on 26 March 2020 issued the Decision on Policy in Respect of Loans to Provide Relief Measures Due to the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic ("BOL Decision").  The BOL Decision requires commercial banks to allow borrowers more time to repay principal and interest and to support parties adversely affected by the pandemic.  Loans re-structured pursuant to the BOL Decision need not be classified as non-performing.

Lao PDR | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MALAYSIA: Control and Support Measures in Malaysia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 16 March 2020, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced the implementation of a nationwide Movement Control Order ("MCO") which began on 18 March 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 31 March 2020. This order was made pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 with the objective being to restrict the spread of COVID-19. However, due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases seen in Malaysia during that time, the Government made a decision to extend the initial period of the MCO to 14 April 2020 (Phase 2) and the MCO was subsequently further extended until 28 April 2020 (Phase 3). The Prime Minister recently made an announcement extending the MCO period to 12 May 2020. 

As part of the Government’s efforts to mitigate the social and economic impact of COVID-19 and the MCO, on 27 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced a RM250 billion stimulus package known as the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN). Through this stimulus package, financial assistance will be channelled to targeted individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and industries to provide temporary relief.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MYANMAR: Control and Support Measures in Myanmar Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar government has introduced a number of measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, and provide relief to businesses, individuals, employers and employees affected by the outbreak.

On 25 March 2020, the President's Office with the advice of the Ministry of Health and Sports, issued Letter No. 70(23)/1 to all Regional and State Governments on Preventive and Precautionary Measures of COVID-19 ("Letter"). The Letter instructed all Regional and State Governments to allow only 50% of the employees in the government offices and departments to work during office hours.

On 20 March 2020, MOL issued Directive 1/2020 stating that  Cut- Make-Pack (CMP) Factories and Workshops, Hotel and Tourism companies, and other medium and small business enterprises economically afflicted by COVID-19 ("Afflicted Businesses") which have been temporarily or permanently shut down, or whose number of labourers has been reduced, are permitted to be exempted from Social Security Board ("SSB") contribution payments. MOL also issued Notifications 63 and 64/2020 on that date to allow the Afflicted Businesses to make SSB contribution payments no later than three months from the end of the relevant month, as opposed to the previous 15-day requirement.

Myanmar | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: Control and Support Measures in the Philippines Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 16 March 2020, the Philippine President declared a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines for a period of six months and imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") throughout Luzon (the biggest island in the Philippines where Metro Manila is located) until 12 April 2020.  The ECQ was subsequently extended to 30 April 2020. 

In order to optimise the government’s efforts in responding against the health and economic costs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act ("Act").  The Act granted the President certain emergency powers and the authority necessary to carry out urgent measures, including the authority to direct the operation of privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities, and ensure availability of essential goods, among others.  The Act also authorised and prioritised the augmentation of the operational budget of government hospitals, calamity funds, and budget of various social amelioration programs. 

On 24 April 2020, the Philippine President announced the extension of the ECQ in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora which is under general community quarantine), CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), and other high-risk areas in Luzon until 15 May 2020. Moderate-risk and low-risk areas in Luzon will be placed under general community quarantine starting 1 May 2020. The President also placed some areas in Visayas and Mindanao under ECQ.

Philippines | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Control and Support Measures in Singapore Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has introduced a number of control and safe distancing measures progressively to manage the spread of COVID-19, and to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak. Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"), the Minister for Health has issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations"), which seeks to minimise the movement of and interaction between individuals with effect from 7 April 2020. As part of Singapore's circuit breaker efforts to pre-empt the increasing trend of local transmission, the Regulations have been progressively updated with enhanced measures. The Regulations are stated to be in force until 4 May 2020 and may be extended if necessary; on 21 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the circuit breaker period would be extended until 1 June 2020.

The Singapore Parliament has also introduced legislative provisions in the Act that will afford temporary relief from actions for parties unable to perform their contracts, repay loans or pay rent due to COVID-19 events, and will increase the monetary thresholds and time limits for insolvency and bankruptcy. In addition, the Government has introduced various initiatives to provide financial support for businesses and individuals during this time, including the Unity Budget, the Solidarity Budget, the Resilience Budget together with further support measures for businesses to cover the prolonged circuit breaker.

Singapore | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
THAILAND: Control and Support Measures in Thailand Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In order to control the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Thailand, the Thai government announced an Emergency Decree which applies to all areas in Thailand from 26 March 2020 to 30 April 2020 ("Emergency Decree"). The Emergency Decree empowers the Bangkok Governor and other provincial governors to issue orders for the closure of places posing a risk of disease contagion. Under the Emergency Decree, the Thai government has issued notifications and set out certain measures in order to prevent and suppress the spread of the disease. The measures include prohibiting entry into risk areas, closure of points of entry into Thailand, prohibiting the assembly of persons, and the closure of places that are risk-prone to the transmission of the disease (including 34 types of venues in the Bangkok area such as department stores, schools, universities, pubs, bars, theatres and sports stadiums). 

To support businesses and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and governmental authorities have introduced several measures, which include emergency loans and soft loans for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic, SME relief measures, a reduction in the rate of withholding taxes, tax relief measures, and additional grounds for tax deductions.

On 28 April 2020, the Thai government has announced the extension of the Emergency Decree until 31 May 2020.

Thailand | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
VIETNAM: Control and Support Measures in Vietnam Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vietnamese Government has introduced a number of measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, and  provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak.                           

Pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Directive No. 16/CT-TTg (as extended), nationwide social distancing measures were imposed from 1 April 2020, and had recently ended on 22 April 2020 for high-risk areas (including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). During such measures, people were advised to stay home and only leave for essential purposes. Regarding relief, the Government has rolled out various initiatives for eligible individuals and businesses. These include tax relief (by way of deferral of tax payment deadlines), suspension of social insurance contributions, and the State Bank of Vietnam asking commercial banks to waive, reduce or defer interest payments on loans to affected businesses.

Vietnam | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
MALAYSIA: COVID-19: Interim “Immunity Booster” for Financially Distressed Companies

In fighting against our common enemy, COVID-19, the Government of Malaysia has implemented a Movement Control Order (“MCO”) commencing on 18 March 2020 and currently extended until 12 May 2020 (“MCO Period”).

It is inevitable that beyond the MCO Period, the global and domestic economies will continue to be severely impacted due to reduced socio-economic activities – with each passing day, many business entities are struggling to survive.

In this Update, we are specifically considering the practical and legal issues pertaining to the interim measures taken by the Government of Malaysia in an attempt to assist financially distressed companies from being wound up by the Court.

Malaysia | Support Measures | 29 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Extension of Support Measures for Businesses to Cover Prolonged Circuit Breaker

On 21 April 2020, the Singapore Government announced that the original circuit breaker measures ("Measures") lasting from 7 April to 4 May 2020 would be extended to 1 June 2020 (inclusive), totalling eight weeks of such Measures. These Measures include the closure of all non-essential businesses, which has since been further tightened such that only 15% of the usual workforce continues to physically attend at their workplaces.

The Solidarity Budget (covered in our earlier Client Update titled "In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures") announced several relief measures to assist employers in retaining their workforce. This has now been extended to cover the full circuit breaker period, and includes the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme ("JSS") and a second Foreign Worker Levy ("FWL") waiver and rebate.

This Update covers the above, as well as a further announcement from the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") on its requirements of employers which may affect the receipt of the JSS and FWL payouts.

Singapore | Support Measures | 29 April 2020
PHILIPPINES: BIR Eases Procedures and Provides Reliefs Including those that are Related to Needed Healthcare Equipment in View of the ECQ

The Bureau of Internal Revenue ("BIR") has extended deadlines, suspended assessment and collection of deficiency taxes, and exempted the importation of needed healthcare equipment or materials from certain taxes and duties in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") imposed by the Philippine government in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.  The quarantine was announced in the evening of 16 March 2020 and was scheduled to end on 30 April 2020.  On 24 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until 15 May 2020.

Philippines | Support Measures | 28 April 2020
CHINA: Measures to Support Enterprises Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic in China

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the business and operation of many enterprises in China. In order to help enterprises (especially SMEs) that are affected by the pandemic relieve their burden and overcome the difficulties during this period, the central government of China has released temporary policies, reliefs and guidelines. The ministries of the central government and the local governments have also issued temporary policies and reliefs in accordance with the guidelines issued by the central government. 

This Update discusses the key measures implemented by the central government to support enterprises amidst the pandemic.

 

China | Support Measures | 27 April 2020
SINGAPORE: Measures and Relief against COVID-19 and their Impact on Property Owners and Tenants

A suite of relief measures has been rolled out by the Government through the Unity Budget, the Resilience Budget and the Solidarity Budget given the COVID-19 outbreak. Amongst other things, the measures include property tax rebates for owners of eligible properties and rental waivers for tenants of Government agencies. To supplement these measures, the Government, on 7 April 2020, passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"). The Act provides targeted and temporary relief for parties that, due to the ongoing COVID 19 outbreak, find themselves unable to perform obligations under the scheduled contracts. This Update provides a summary of these measures and their impact on property owners and tenants.

Singapore | Support Measures | 08 April 2020
SINGAPORE: In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures

On 3 April 2020, Singapore announced that she was moving to implement circuit breaker measures to control the spread of COVID-19. As covered in our earlier Client Update, these circuit breaker measures include school closures and shutdowns for all businesses except those providing essential services, and will remain in place from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (both dates inclusive).

To alleviate the hardship consequent upon business closures, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, announced the S$5.1 billion Solidarity Budget on 6 April 2020, of which S$4 billion will go towards supporting businesses and workers.

This Update discusses the additional support provided for businesses, which includes measures such as further enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme and rebates for foreign worker levies paid in 2020. It also covers other relief measures employed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") to assist small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") with continued access to bank credit and insurance cover, and to ensure interbank funding markets remain liquid and well-functioning.

Singapore | Support Measures | 08 April 2020
SINGAPORE: COVID-19 Resilience Budget and MOM Relief Measures: Additional Support for Businesses

Since the announcement of Budget 2020 (also known as the Unity Budget) a bare five weeks ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, has unveiled the S$48 billion Resilience Budget on 26 March 2020 to help Singapore weather the "mighty storm" of COVID-19. In a mark of the extraordinary times, this is only the second time that Singapore's reserves have been drawn on in her history.

Apart from the relief measures that directly assist households, the Resilience Budget sets aside funds to implement new schemes and enhance existing ones to support businesses in these crippling times. Key measures are elaborated on below, together with a consolidation of recent non-Budget measures implemented by the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") to provide relief to employers to cope with manpower issues.

Singapore | Support Measures | 31 March 2020


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