Singapore said it will support companies that hire new local workers in the next six months under a programme that is aimed at boosting the domestic workforce during the pandemic. The government plans to disburse S$1 billion (US$733 million) to encourage companies to “bring forward their hiring plans”, the manpower ministry said in a statement on Friday. The jobs must pay a gross monthly wage of at least S$1,400 (US$1,025), and a company’s incentive will be reduced if existing employees leave, it said. Singapore to live-stream parliamentary debates, in major U-turn Eligible companies under the Jobs Growth Incentive programme will receive wage support of as much as S$15,000 for each local hire under 40 years old and S$30,000 for older workers. The government will pay 25 per cent of the first S$5,000 of monthly salaries for those under 40 for a year, and 50 per cent for those over that age, it said. Singapore has drawn on reserves equivalent to more than 20 years of past budget surpluses to combat the blow from the pandemic. The government last month announced additional support measures of S$8 billion – including the S$1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive programme – to help businesses and workers, adding to some S$93 billion (US$68.1 billion) in earlier pledges of aid for the economy. The topic of local employment has been in focus recently, with Singapore authorities making several moves to support domestic talent and curb the amount of foreign employees on its shores. Last month, the government announced an increase in the minimum salaries for some foreign pass holders, which could make it tougher for companies to hire overseas workers over Singaporean applicants. Singapore cuts economic forecast, on course for worst recession since independence The country is facing the worst recession in its history amid the coronavirus pandemic . Singapore’s unemployment rate rose to 2.9 per cent in the second quarter, the highest since a decade ago during the global financial crisis.