Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development and Minister-in-charge for Muslim Affairs what are the current and future support plans to cushion the financial impact of reduced revenue and donations received by mosques during this COVID-19 pandemic especially in terms of support for mosque programmes and wages for staff employed by mosques.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs & Minister for Social and Family Development:
- Our mosques rely on donations from congregants to sustain their operations, including manpower costs. These donations are largely collected through donation boxes at the mosques.
- COVID-19 has affected the amount of donations that the mosques receive. During the Circuit Breaker last year, the community was unable to make physical donations due to the temporary closure of our mosques. This resulted in a drop in the donations received through the donation boxes.
- To address this issue, Muis and the mosques turned to digital means to collect donations.
a) Our mosques stepped up efforts to facilitate donations through various online payment platforms.
b) Muis and MuslimSG also launched OurMasjid.SG portal in April 2020, which raised about $4.4 million for mosques.
- Since then, mosques have gradually resumed congregational prayers and other religious activities, in line with the prevailing Safe Management Measures. This has led to an increase in physical donations, though not to previous levels.
- Muis has provided additional funding to support mosques’ operations. This comes in the form of grants to offset the necessary expenses to ensure the safe resumption of religious activities. These expenses include the purchase of equipment for temperature screening, safe entry check-ins, as well as masks and other personal protective gear.
- Like other employers, mosques also receive wage support through the Jobs Support Scheme (or JSS), which totalled about $9.9 million in 2020.
- The support from Muis and the Government, together with the increase in online donations, have helped to cushion the reduction in income and donations during the pandemic. Muis will continue to work closely with the mosques to ensure they remain financially stable and receive the necessary assistance during these challenging times. I thank the community for their support and encourage them to continue donating online, so that our mosques can serve the congregants in a safe manner.