Parliament: Government to match funds raised by private sector to help businesses amid coronavirus outbreak

Examples of what the funds raised can be used for include helping firms to defray costs such as rental and wages, marketing and branding, and productivity solutions. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A new government scheme that will match funds raised by the private sector in the battle against the ongoing coronavirus outbreak was rolled out on Tuesday (March 3).

Under the SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience (Steer) programme, Enterprise Singapore will match $1 for every $4 raised through qualifying industry-led initiatives, up to $1 million per fund.

Funds set up by trade associations and chambers (TACs) to help businesses survive and thrive amid the coronavirus outbreak can apply for the programme, as well as similar funds started by industry groupings of at least five companies.

Already, several such funds supporting business sustainability as well as growth and upgrading have been set up in recent weeks. Examples of what the funds can be used for include helping firms to defray costs such as rental and wages, marketing and branding, and productivity solutions.

Announcing the scheme on Tuesday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng said the idea is to "enable TACs and other industry groups to help companies get through today's economic uncertainties and prepare for tomorrow's recovery".

Interested parties can submit their proposals to Enterprise Singapore from now until March 2, 2021. Successful applicants will have 18 months to use the funds.

The scheme is part of the $4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package announced in this year's Budget to help businesses and workers impacted by the global spread of Covid-19.

TACs, which have strong networks and a good grasp of the needs of businesses, will be equipped with more resources to support them, Dr Tan said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

They can, for example, engage experienced professionals to help execute industry transformation projects, or match them with businesses in need of expertise, and have up to 70 per cent of the fees offset by Enterprise Singapore. The Executive-in-Residence programme, which is also open for applications, will provide co-funding for up to two years.

TACs looking to improve their own organisational processes and capabilities can also tap the Local Enterprise and Association Development programme, Dr Tan said.

He noted that Singaporeans have been pulling together in the fight against the virus, and TACs and firms have been playing their part.

"Last month, when demand surged for essential commodities, the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association teamed up with six other associations to increase domestic food supply," he said.

Dr Tan also cited the Singapore Furniture Industries Council, which created the first Steer-approved fund and will be launching an assistance scheme this week to help members strengthen their business capabilities and increase market diversification.

The SFIC said in a statement on Tuesday that more than 300 members will be eligible to tap its $1.2 million scheme. Each will receive between $1,000 and $6,000 in financial aid, which can be used for training courses and other applicable costs.

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