ComfortDelGro is extending its daily rental relief until September to help its taxi drivers, a move which it says will push it into the red.
ComfortDelGro expects losses for taxi division ComfortDelGro will also pass on all savings from the licence fee waiver and the $2,200 that is being given by the Government for each unhired taxi to cabbies through a waiver of the call levy till September. PHOTO: ST FILE

ComfortDelGro is extending its daily rental relief until September 2020 to help its taxi drivers affected by the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak - a move which it says will push it into the red.

ComfortDelGro said on 30 March 2020 that its cabbies are now receiving a total of $46.50 per taxi per day in rental relief - comprising $36.50 from the company and $10 from the Government's Special Relief Fund (SRF).

The portion from the company is supposed to reduce gradually in April and May, under its original timeline. But the worsening economic conditions on the back of the virus crisis have made it 'imperative that more help be extended to cabbies'.

Hence, ComfortDelGro will match the SRF amount of $10 until September and, depending on the prevailing conditions, also extend the additional $26.50 per day relief till then.

That is, hirers can expect to receive $46.50 per taxi per day in rental relief from now until 30 September 2020, 'if the situation does not improve'. The move is expected to cost the transport giant 'as much as $80 million'.

If disbursed fully, it will effectively push its taxi division, under ComfortDelGro Taxi, into the red for the year ending 31 December 2020. If so, it would be the 'first time Singapore's largest taxi operator will post full-year losses', it said.

ComfortDelGro Taxi Chief Executive Ang Wei Neng said, "Our priority is our cabbies' survival. The dramatic drop in tourist arrivals, the increased number of people working from home, the enhanced measures to restrict crowds at shopping malls and eateries as well as the closure of nightspots are having a massive impact on our cabbies. It is unprecedented. Our cabbies are part of the ComfortDelGro family and we want to help them continue to put food on the table."

In addition to the rental relief extension, ComfortDelGro will also pass on all savings from the licence fee waiver and the $2,200 that is being given by the Government for each unhired taxi to cabbies through a waiver of the call levy till September.

All these are over and above the $1,000 per month that the Government is giving to self-employed persons over the next nine months.