Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) how many businesses have taken advantage of the Business and IPC Partnership Scheme (BIPS) set up to promote corporate volunteerism amongst employees seconded to Institutions of Public Character (IPCs); and (b) whether BIPS, which is due to expire on 31 December 2021, will be extended so as to provide more support to the IPCs during this pandemic.
Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law:
- The Business and IPC Partnership Scheme (BIPS) was introduced in July 2016 to encourage corporate volunteerism and provide support to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs). Through BIPS, businesses enjoy 250% tax deduction on wages and related expenses when they organise or support their employees to volunteer and provide services at IPCs, including secondments. At Budget 2018, BIPS was extended to 31 December 2021.
- On average, 37 businesses tap on BIPS each year, between 2016 to 2019. To encourage more businesses to do so, the Ministry of Finance convened a series of focus group discussions in 2018 to gather feedback. This led to the following enhancements in December 2019 to make BIPS more accessible to businesses:
a) Businesses can choose to claim deductions on wage based on fixed hourly rates in lieu of actual salary, to reduce their administrative burden - $10/hr for general volunteerism, and $20/hr for skills-based volunteerism;
b) Businesses no longer have to submit proof of documentation for expenses less than 5% of total qualifying expenditure to IPCs, though they should retain proof for verification by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore; and
c) Declaration forms were simplified.
- The Member of Parliament asked if we will be extending BIPS beyond December 2021. BIPS has received positive feedback from corporates and IPCs. Some corporates see contributing to the community as part of a business’ larger role in the society, and an expression of the mutual, symbiotic relationship between a company and the community in which it thrives. Employees of corporates who give back to society also have higher levels of well-being and are more productive and fulfilled. IPCs in turn, benefit from the skills and expertise that a corporate offers and can serve their beneficiaries more effectively.
- We encourage corporates to continue volunteering with IPCs and create a larger positive social impact. We are therefore working with key partners to review the scheme, including plans for beyond December 2021. We will share more information when the plans are ready.