The May 04, 2020 end-date of the “circuit breaker” (lockdown) period mandated by the government of Singapore in April 07, 2020 has been moved to June 01, 2020.
When on April 19, 2020, Singapore’s more than 20,000 number of confirmed Covid-19 cases became the highest in Southeast Asia, the need to extend and impose stricter measures became evident. The “circuit breaker” approach that entailed only the closing down of nonessential businesses and limiting entry to essential establishments to ensure safe distancing, now includes orders for Singapore residents to stay-at-home.
Leaving one’s home must be as infrequent as possible and limited only to performing essential tasks; such as buying of food and necessities, as well as engaging in exercise. Moreover, only one person per household must carry out an essential task, which denotes that going out in groups is not permitted.
Impact of the Extended Circuit Breaker Period on Businesses
The extension of the “circuit breaker” period also meant prolonging the period in which nonessential businesses remain closed. On the other hand, companies operating under limited conditions resulting in less income, whilst incurring the same overhead costs, all the more needed to apply cost-cutting measures.. In many cases, employers were constrained to retrench employees or put them under a no-pay leave arrangement.
Still, companies who had to retrench were under obligation to pay a final retrenchment compensation package. However, the retrenchment package depended on the financial capabilities of a business, since the effects of the COVID-19 have been felt by business owners as early as January, 2020.
Although the government has already released three stimulus relief packages aimed at providing financial assistance to different sectors, including retrenched employees and those under a no-pay leave arrangement, many had expected the “circuit breaker”/lockdown period to end last May 04, 2020. The announcement of the extension to June 01 has prompted many to scout for licensed money lenders from whom individuals could borrow additional funds.
Why Singaporeans Choose to Borrow Money from Licensed Money Lenders
Singaporeans prefer to borrow money from licensed money lenders because the latter group is strictly prohibited from practicing predatory lending schemes. Mainly because money lenders in Singapore can acquire a license to operate as a financing company, only if they pass a written licensing test.
The qualifying test aims to ascertain an applicant’s knowledge of the rules and policies legislated under the country’s Moneylenders Act. The Office of the Registry of Moneylenders administers the test as well as undertake the vetting process to determine an applicant’s eligibility to operate as a licensed money lender.
The money lending rules include basing the rate of interest on the current nominal rate, which at present is pegged at 4%. There are also stipulations that limit the type and amount of fees that money lenders can collect from borrowers, including penalty and other charges applied on past due loans.
Since the lending rules and regulations are quite extensive, those still not familiar with the provisions of Singapore’s Moneylenders’ Act can find the related information at the Singapore Ministry of Law website under the Info for Money Lenders and Info for Borrowers tabs.