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Parliamentary Replies

Tote Board's Donations and Annual Report

13 May 2013

Date: 13 May 2013

Parliamentary Question by Mrs Lina Chiam:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) why did the Tote Board donate $400 million towards building Gardens By the Bay, which charges admission fees for its conservatories, instead of donating the sum to the needy or funding social services; and (b) whether the Tote Board publishes an annual report detailing its donations made and, if not, why.

Reply by DPM and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam: 

1. Under its Act, Tote Board’s funds can be donated in support of public, social or charitable purposes and the promotion of culture, art and sport in Singapore. Hence, while supporting the needy and social services is at the core of its funding activities, the Tote Board also supports projects that bring vibrancy into our community spaces to benefit all Singaporeans. These include Gardens by the Bay, as well as other community and arts-related projects.

2. In 2008, the Board made a donation to support the development cost of Gardens by the Bay. The donation does not cover the costs of operating the conservatories. The conservatories make full recovery of operating costs through the collection of admission fees.

3. A largest proportion of Tote Board donations goes towards social support. Over the last 5 years, the Board has donated $1.2 billion or almost half (44%) of all its donations to the social sector. In FY12 alone, donations to the social sector were about $500m, or 46% of donations for that year.

4. This includes the Tote Board Social Service Fund, through which programmes for the needy and disadvantaged are supported. Another example is the Tote Board Community Healthcare Fund (TBCHF) which supports community-based preventive healthcare programmes and builds capabilities in the Intermediate and Long Term Care sector to enable providers to offer better and more affordable care.

5. I should add that the Tote Board positions itself as complementing government programmes, not substituting for government. In fact, the Board does not fund projects which it deems to be basic government programmes. Instead, it seeks for example to uplift capabilities, and work with its community partners to pilot new or innovative programmes to help the needy and disadvantaged.

6. The Government plays the major role in supporting social services and programmes to help the needy. For FY12 alone, the Government spent about $1.25 billion on targeted benefits for the bottom 20% of Singaporean households, or about $6,000 per household. It includes the Workfare Income Supplement, childcare subsidies, educational bursaries and means-tested healthcare subsidies.

7. Tote Board’s annual report, which contains a summary of donations made, is tabled in Parliament. Members were notified of this when the last Annual Report was tabled in September last year. Besides being available at the National Library, the annual report can now also be viewed on Tote Board’s website.