Singapore launches COVID-19 relief package for seafarers

Port of Singapore terminal. Credit: Joachim Affeldt

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) will roll out several initiatives to help Singaporean seafarers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are part of a SGD27 million (USD19 million) package to help the maritime sector.

Among these are the Seafarers Relief Package for eligible Singaporean seafarers who are unable to secure shipboard employment between 1 May to 31 July 2020, with financial assistance of up to SGD800 (USD565) a month.

The MPA said that the fund is to assist Singaporean seafarers whose employment has been affected by border control measures and crew change restrictions.

The fund is open to active Singaporean seafarers who have been deployed on ships from 1 November 2019 and are awaiting assignment or on standby for employment onboard ocean-going vessels from 1  May to 31 July 2020 (i.e. not paid seafaring allowance). Individuals who have benefited from the COVID-19 Support Grant administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development are not eligible to apply for the seafarers relief package

Furthermore, the MPA, the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), SMOU, and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) are jointly providing a revised Achievement Award (AA) scheme.

The revised AA scheme complements and builds on the momentum provided by the current schemes for both the employers and employees.

The scheme will reward eligible applicants up to SGD10,000 (USD7,063) for the successful completion of certain courses to enhance the technical experience of senior officers.

MPA has also been working with seafarer missions to provide for the needs of seafarers onboard ships calling at Singapore. MPA will provide a one-off additional SGD50,000 (USD35,313) to its annual grant of SGD150,000 (USD105,940) to the seafarer missions in Singapore. The annual grant supports a wide range of welfare services for seafarers including free counselling services and pastoral care, which the seafarer missions have also made available online.