The Business Times

Singapore to further help private capital, family offices ‘maximise philanthropic impact’

Tessa Oh
Published Tue, Apr 18, 2023 · 04:02 PM

SINGAPORE will do more to help private capital and family offices “maximise their philanthropic impact”, having already extended the tax deduction rate of 250 per cent for donations until end-2026, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 18).

This is part of efforts to leverage assets, expertise and networks of organisations to “enhance opportunities” for the vulnerable, said Masagos on the second day of the debate on the President’s Address. He did not elaborate on what new measures might be taken.

One way in which the government can do this is by driving awareness and momentum to support local and regional causes, suggested West Coast Member of Parliament (MP) Foo Mee Har, who also spoke during the debate.

Family offices which are already major philanthropists should also be encouraged to share their experiences and provide “aspirational examples” for others, added Foo, who is also the chief executive of the Wealth Management Institute (WMI). WMI hosts the Global-Asia Family Office Circle, a network platform for family offices to learn about best practices.

On how to better help family offices contribute to Singapore’s development as a whole, Foo also made several proposals: introducing a systematic onboarding process to integrate newly-arrived wealthy individuals into the Republic’s enterprise and investment ecosystem, and raising awareness about promising research and tech innovations in Singapore’s startup ecosystem, so that they can help to commercialise and scale promising new ideas.

To better orientate wealthy individuals towards the local ecosystem, “systematic introduction” to the specific areas within the innovation community can be curated to help accelerate capital deployment.


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In his speech, Masagos emphasised the need for Singapore to sustain social mobility, which has been eroding in other advanced economies amid wage stagnation.

“Some youth in other countries do not believe they will be better off than their parents,” he said. “In addition, many wonder if they can achieve their aspirations, or they will be kept in the social class they were born into.”

Without the hope of being upwardly mobile, “the ‘have-nots’ tussle with the ‘haves’”, resulting in a loss of unity and a fractured, weakened society, he said: “We must not let this fate befall us.”

Getting businesses more involved is one of several ways in which Singapore is strengthening policies to uplift lower-income families, said Masagos.

Other approaches include giving all children a good start through affordable and quality preschools, and supporting families through government schemes and assistance programmes, such as ComLink and ComCare.

Extra support will be given to families who take the initiative to improve their circumstances.

In the Forward Singapore exercise, some have suggested encouraging families who take positive steps — such as securing stable employment and ensuring that their children attend preschool — in a manner that “does not erode their sense of self-reliance and personal agency”, noted Masagos.

“When such families put in the effort, we know they are on the road to making progress in their lives. And as part of our social compact, it is good and right that we recognise such efforts.” The government is thus studying how to “do this in a bigger way” under ComLink.

Lastly, the government will strengthen its collaboration with academics and institutes of higher learning to improve policies, social work practices and the delivery of services to meet evolving social needs, he said. “In our efforts, we must also tap the best minds and translate the best research into practice to make a tangible impact.”


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