Written reply to Parliamentary Question on Singapore's ambition to be the regional philanthropy hub
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 18 September 2023
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Foo Mee Har, MP, West Coast GRC
To ask the Prime Minister in the light of Singapore’s ambition to be the regional philanthropy hub (a) what are the building blocks that need to be in place to realise the ambition; and (b) how will the Government support such developments.
Answer by Mr Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, and Chairman of MAS:
1. Singapore has the potential to be Asia’s centre for philanthropy. We have a vibrant wealth management sector and growing philanthropy ecosystem. MAS and the relevant government agencies have been working with the industry on several building blocks to shepherd wealth to purposeful causes locally and in the region.
2. First, we are building up philanthropy advisory talent and resources. MAS together with the Institute of Banking and Finance published in 2021 a set of technical skills and competencies that financial sector and family office professionals should possess in order to provide philanthropy advisory services. This includes, for example, the capability to evaluate and identify appropriate philanthropic structures to help potential donors achieve their wealth and legacy planning goals. Locals who attend training courses benchmarked against these skills and competencies can obtain co-funding support for their course fees. MAS is also working with the industry to develop an online portal for donors to carry out the necessary due diligence on local and overseas charities and measure the impact of their contributions.
3. Second, we facilitate partnerships across various philanthropic ecosystem players. EDB has been engaging private foundations to undertake purposeful and effective philanthropy through Singapore, as well as international non-profit organisations who can be ready partners for philanthropists keen to make an impact here and across the region. The Wealth Management Institute and the private banking industry, with support from MAS, launched the Impact Philanthropy Partnership (IPP) to bring together high net worth individuals and families. The IPP conducts forums, events, and research, to raise awareness of philanthropic causes and practices, galvanise giving, and encourage philanthropic partnerships.
4. Third, we encourage giving through our tax and regulatory frameworks. Recent enhancements by MAS and MOF to the tax incentive schemes for single family offices include recognising donations to qualifying local charities as eligible spend as well as the launch of the Philanthropy Tax Incentive Scheme (PTIS) for qualifying donors to claim tax deduction for overseas donations. These enhancements complement the 250% tax deduction rate for qualifying donations made to Institutions of a Public Character and eligible institutions, which MOF recently extended by another three years till end-2026.
5. Fourth, we maintain strong public trust in the Singapore charity sector. This will provide donors confidence to give to local charities and help attract entities to conduct philanthropic activities out of Singapore. The Commissioner of Charities’ Office works with partners and stakeholders to strengthen local charities’ capabilities and governance through the implementation of the Code of Governance for Charities, learning programmes, shared services, and funding support through the Charities Capability Fund.
6. As Singapore attracts more wealth from around the world to be managed here, there is both opportunity and purpose in putting some of this wealth to philanthropic use both locally and in the region. MAS and the relevant government agencies will continue to work with industry players to help achieve this objective.