SINGAPORE - Singaporeans who are nursing ideas for their own citizen-led, ground-up movements have cause for cheer, as the Government will be setting aside up to $25 million by the second half of this year to support meaningful projects.
This sum will come under the new Our Singapore Fund, which will "support projects that build the spirit of caring and resilience, nurture our can-do spirit, and promote unity and our sense of being Singaporean", Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in the Budget address on Thursday (March 24).
"It is 'Our Singapore Fund' because it is about how we all can come together in partnership to share our strengths, share our loves, create something more and better together, to build our Singapore together," he added.
The latest fund follows the SG50 Celebration Fund last year, which was tailored to projects that celebrated the nation's Golden Jubilee. Mr Heng, who headed the SG50 steering committee, said on Thursday it had supported nearly 400 projects.
The fund will be coordinated by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, which will give more details at its Committee of Supply parliamentary sitting next month.
This is one of three measures announced in this year's Budget to build a caring society.
A pilot Business and IPC (Institutions of a Public Character) Partnership Scheme will also be introduced, to help businesses support their employees who wish to volunteer.
From July 1 this year until end-2018, companies that organise their employees to volunteer and provide services to IPCs - including secondments - will get a 250 per cent tax deduction on the incurred costs, Mr Heng said.
The sum, which must be approved by the relevant IPC, will be capped at $250,000 per business and $50,000 per IPC annually.
The deductions under this scheme come above the existing 250 per cent tax deduction for cash donations and qualifying in-kind donations such as land and computers.
Meanwhile, the Government also hopes to encourage more donations to the Community Chest (ComChest), which plays a critical role in raising funds for about 80 voluntary welfare organisations.
As such, it will provide "dollar-for-dollar matching for any additional donations" through the ComChest monthly donation programme Share, that are over and above the level in the 2015 financial year.
This matching will be done yearly for three years, starting from April 1.
Mr Heng said he hopes the three measures will catalyse efforts for a kinder and more caring society.
"This is the spirit of the society that we are building," Mr Heng said. "It is one where we rise above our circumstances, to build a better life for ourselves and our children.
"It is a society that cares for those in need, and where those who are helped do their part to help others. It is a society that we are all proud to be a part of."