New grant to support businesses coping with rising energy costs

Companies can apply for the grant from Sept 1 this year to March 31 next year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Local firms in some sectors will soon be able to apply for a new grant to help them reduce their energy bills amid rising electricity costs.

The new Energy Efficiency Grant was announced by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Tuesday (June 21).

It will provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food services, food manufacturing and retail sectors with up to 70 per cent funding support to adopt energy-efficient equipment in categories that have been pre-approved.

Capped at $30,000 per company, the grant will cover energy-efficient equipment in categories such as LED lighting, air-conditioners, cooking hobs, refrigerators, water heaters and dryers.

The sectors eligible for the new grant have been significantly affected by higher electricity prices in terms of the impact on their overall business costs, MOF said in a statement.

"The grant will support such firms to improve their energy efficiency and alleviate increasing business costs due to increased energy prices," the ministry added.

"This is a more sustainable way to help our businesses to manage energy prices which are beyond our control."

Speaking at a press conference on additional support measures for companies and households, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said: "For businesses in this higher energy cost environment, they will need to continue to restructure and become more energy efficient in order to remain competitive, and we will provide support to firms who need that extra lift to sustain their transformation efforts."

To apply for the new grant, applicants must be a business registered in Singapore and the equipment bought must also be used here.

Companies can apply for the grant from Sept 1 this year to March 31 next year.

They will then have up to a year from the time that an application is submitted to purchase equipment and submit claims for reimbursement.

The window for claims will run until March 31, 2024.

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A $1.5 billion support package to help lower-income families and vulnerable groups amid rising global inflation was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (June 21).

The new grant complements existing initiatives that help firms here be more energy efficient.

They include the National Environment Agency's Energy Efficiency Fund, which supports businesses in the manufacturing sector, and the BCA Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Chee Hong Tat during the press conference.

Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee said: “I think (the new grant) will power businesses to be more energy-conscious and look at how they can be more efficient in their consumption.”

Fashion retailer Pomelo said the grant will also help support its efforts as it drives change in its industry through sustainable initiatives. 

Ms Kevalin Athayu, Pomelo’s vice-president and head of sustainability, said: “This grant from the Government is certainly a welcome development for the retail sector. We see this as a great opportunity to improve energy efficiency for our Singapore retail operations and will be reviewing the grant’s eligibility criteria in detail.”

Ms Ariel Lee, director of food and beverage firm Sunpark Singapore, which runs brands such as Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen and Belle-Ville pancake cafe, noted that the company is monitoring how bills will increase, as fuel prices go up. 

“(Support for buying) equipment, especially energy-efficient exhaust hoods, cooker hobs and lights would be a great help especially when we build new stores. It is not only capital expenditure support, but also helps with long-term deduction in our running costs,” she said.

Besides support for energy-efficient measures, there will also be help for local companies with cash-flow concerns, Mr Chee said.

The Enterprise Financing Scheme - Trade Loan will be enhanced, with the maximum loan quantum increased from $5 million to $10 million from July 1 this year to March 31 next year.

The Government will also continue to provide 70 per cent risk-share for the scheme during this period.

From now till Sept 30 this year, firms can also tap the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme for their working capital needs.

When this programme expires, the Enterprise Financing Scheme - SME Working Capital Loan will also be enhanced, with the maximum loan quantum increased from $300,000 to $500,000 from Oct 1 this year to March 31 next year.

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