Government prepared to increase matching grants for three self-help groups

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and Speaker of Parliament and Adviser to Jurong GRC grassroots organisation Mdm Halimah Yacob meeting residents during their Sunday morning walkabout at Bukit Batok East. -- ST PHOTO: DES
Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and Speaker of Parliament and Adviser to Jurong GRC grassroots organisation Mdm Halimah Yacob meeting residents during their Sunday morning walkabout at Bukit Batok East. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Three self-help groups who have submitted proposals to step up community efforts might enjoy increased funding from the Government.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong told reporters at the sidelines of a community dialogue at Bukit Batok East that the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and the Eurasian Association (EA) are looking at ways to raise more funds for their respective communities - including increasing their CPF check off rates, which are amounts individuals contribute towards self-help goups on a monthly basis.

These contributions differ for each group: monthly contributions towards the CDAC currently go up to $1, while those contributing to the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund can donate up to $16 depending on their salary.

"If these communities are doing more on their part, the Government then, in response, will be committed to providing more in terms of matching grants," said Mr Wong.

The Government provides a matching grant to donations raised by self-help groups - up to an annual cap.

Just last year, the Government increased its matching grant for Yayasan Mendaki, the Association of Muslim Professionals and Malay Muslim Organisations from $4 million to $5 million from this financial year onwards, after they ramped up efforts to help the community.

Sinda currently receives up to $1.7 million a year, while EA gets not more than $0.2 million annually. The CDAC - as a majority community with "more ability and resources to raise funds within the community itself" - does not receive yearly grants. It received a one-off grant of $10 million to be used from 1992 to 1997.

Mr Wong could not reveal more details about the proposals submitted by the three self-help groups, but believes all of them are looking to do something this year.

"When they finalise their plans and start implementing these new proposals, we will correspondingly, on the part of the Government, provide an increase in matching grants to these self-help groups," he said. "It's in line with our philosophy that the government and the community both work together to help individuals."

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