MP Gerald Giam

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) in each of the past three years, how much funding has been utilised for the Singapore Global Network Funding Programme; (b) which are the main countries and cities where this funding has been utilised; (c) how many applications for funding are received and what proportion of applications are approved; and (d) what measurable outcomes are attributable to this programme.

The Minister of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Low Yen Ling) (for the Minister for Trade and Industry): Mr Speaker, between August 2020 and December 2022, the Singapore Global Network Funding Programme (SGNFP) disbursed around $570,000 and supported close to 300 ground-up efforts around the world. About two-thirds of SGNFP applications were successful. These included funding for events such as networking sessions, forums, webinars, festive celebrations and partnerships on digital content creation.

These efforts support the SGN in broadening and deepening our overseas ties and network with family, friends and fans of Singapore. The programme has reached out to around 25,000 participants in more than 20 countries like Australia, China, the United Kingdom and the United States, where many overseas Singaporeans are based.

Mr Speaker: Mr Gerald Giam.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): I thank the Minister of State for her reply. Is the main objective of SGN Funding Programme to encourage Singaporean talent abroad to return to Singapore and contribute to our economy and our society. And if not, what is the SGN programme’s main objective? Secondly, what kind of events and activities were funded by SGN? The Minister of State mentioned that there was $570,000 that was spent.

And how effective were they in achieving these objectives? I am not sure if I heard correctly that two-thirds were successful. What happens to the other one-third, then?

Ms Low Yen Ling: Mr Speaker, I want to thank the Member Mr Gerald Giam for his questions. I think he will agree with me that overseas Singaporeans are an integral part of the Singapore family. If you remember, SGN was launched in August 2020 and that replaced the Overseas Singaporeans Unit (OSU). [Please refer to “Clarification by Minister of State for Trade and Industry “, Official Report, 27 February 2023, Vol 95, Issue 87, Clarification section.]

The SGN has various programmes and one of the programme is the one that the Parliamentary Question (PQ) is about, the SGN Funding Programme which supports the SGN to broaden and deepen our overseas network of family and friends. Especially at the height of COVID-19, it was so important to make sure that they remained connected to Singapore, even as they were overseas expanding their network.

Allow me to also share that today, within a short span of two-and-a-half years, and despite COVID-19 and the difficulty of organising events, the SGN now has more than 100,000 members around the world, including 15,000 C-suite executives. And there are close to 300 partners that collaborate with the SGN on various partnership initiatives, to do a few things and the aim of SGN is to do a few things: one, to promote networking and collaboration amongst Singaporeans and friends of Singapore; two, connect the community of family and friends of Singapore; and three, at the same time, also to provide platforms to share about opportunities and development in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

The SGN team is also open to working with overseas Singaporeans who are exploring to come back to Singapore to work or to have them to come back because of the kids’ education. 

In terms of the numbers, I mentioned that, even though, due to COVID-19, we could not have events, it is quite heartening to see that we have received 448 applications for the SGN and the SGN Funding Programme. Out of that, two-thirds – 70% of the applicants are Singaporeans. Two-thirds of the applications were approved and out of those approved, 70% are Singaporeans, of which more than 60% are students. 

So, it is an important platform to allow our students, our working professionals, business owners overseas, to stay connected to Singapore through these various activities – whether it is webinar or over Zoom or physical sessions. I can tell you, National Day and Lunar New Year celebrations in the various cities are very well-received, especially when we bring Singaporean food.

I hope that answers the question.

Mr Speaker: Mr Giam.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: I thank the Minister of State for her answer. Does SGN work closely with our Missions abroad to engage Singaporeans on domestic and foreign policy issues that matter to them overseas as well as their families back home? This is related to also my cut on Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) later no engaging Singaporeans on foreign policy.

Ms Low Yen Ling: I want to thank the Member for his supplementary question. Since the launch in August 2020, the SGN has replaced the Overseas Singaporeans Unit and is now sitting with the Economic Development Board. As part of that, the SGN team will work closely with not just the economic agencies but also with MFA and our Missions as well, to allows Singaporeans, even though they cannot come back – for example, in the last three years, whether they are in Beijing or in other cities in Australia and the US – that they have a way to stay connected to Singapore and at the same time, to also understand the various refinements to the policies, and the current affairs as well.

Ministry of Trade and Industry
27 February 2023

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