With the upcoming disbursement of $100 Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers for each Singaporean household, the role of the Community Development Council (CDC) has come under public attention.
In this article, we explore the role of the CDCs, how they support Singaporeans from all walks of life and how they are funded.
What Is The Community Development Council?
Founded in 1997 under the People’s Association (PA), CDC was created by the PA board, chaired by then-Prime Minster Mr Goh Chok Tong. As part of the PA, key council members must be approved by the PA board. As stated in Section 14 of People’s Association (CDCs) Rules, the core purpose of CDC, is “fostering of community bonding and strengthening of social cohesion amongst the people of Singapore…”
According to Section 5 of People’s Association (CDCs) Rules, there will be only 1 chairman and no less than 12 but no more than 80 members on the council. Upon selection of chairman, the PA board may appoint the chair as the mayor of the district. From the council members, no more than 3 Vice Chairman and 1 Secretary-Treasurer or General Manager shall be appointed to the council.
For reference to how a council looks like, the South West CDC organisation structure is as shown below.
Source: South West CDC
Upon the formation of the council, the council are each in-charge of the respective district they are allocated. Individually the council will operate and run their districts independently unless there is a nation-wide initiative for the CDCs to lead. Currently, there are a total of 5 districts and 5 mayors running the respective districts. Amongst the 5 mayors, 4 of them hold other official appointed roles and careers while only the Central mayor is appointed on a full-time basis.
South West – Ms Low Yen Ling
North West – Mr Alex Yam
Central – Ms Denise Phua
North East – Mr Desmond Choo
South East – Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman
Each district is made up of one or more constituencies as listed below:
How CDC Support Singaporean From All Walks Of Life?
Over the years, CDCs have been involved in numerous social programmes and provide social and targeted financial assistance for lower-income families. Based on the FY2019 Annual report, CDC has reached out to over 150,000 beneficiaries and organised activities for over 1 million residents.
A nationwide initiative run by CDC is the Higher Education Community Bursary, previously known as the CDC/CCC (Citizen Consultative committees) Bursary. This Community Bursary is not to be confused with the Education Bursary disbursed by Ministry of Education as community bursaries may be coupled with other bursaries to provide extra support for lower-income families.
Other notable initiatives include joint programmes with various groups and ministries such as SME centres @ CDC, Community Legal Pro Bono Network, Law Awareness Week, and WeCare Art Fund & Exhibition. Apart from nationwide programmes, individual CDCs do run their own unique event depending on the different values championed by each CDC as shown below.
Source: CDC FY2019
Central Singapore CDC: Envisioning a “Do Good” spirit for the district, Central CDC launched a Do-Good grant to encourage district residents to take part and organise community initiatives. Additionally, Central CDC also provides the “Bless Our City” grant to help disadvantaged individuals regardless of race or religion.
North East CDC: Focused on assisting the needy, North East CDC runs the H.E.A.R.T initiative whereby residents can get assistance in the form of home refurbishment, education & employment, material assistance, financial relief, and ambulance services.
North West CDC: For a caring and healthy district, North West CDC provide for the people in 3 pillars aiding the needy, bringing people together and community cohesion. These includes programmes such as North West Student Support Fund, Healthy Living @ North West, and North West Silver Care.
South East CDC: For forging a cooperative and tight-knit community, South East CDC lead programmes such as Marine Parade Leadership Foundation, Community Laboratory @ South East and Common Sense for Common Space (an interfaith dialogue).
South West CDC: With a vision for residents for “owning your community”, South West CDC runs a myriad of programmes to bring the community together, reach out to the vulnerable, and care for the environment. These programmes include Integrated Care Programme, Fun Walkers @ South West, and Green Spaces @ South West.
For further information on the various events your CDC might be organising, please refer to their official individual sites.
In 2020, in response to COVID-19’s impact on residents, the CDCs has also stepped up in the organisation of activities and assistance to the needy. During Circuit Breaker, the CDCs launched the distribution of GrabFood vouchers to lower-income students. Subsequently, CDCs started rolling out the $50 CDC vouchers for the lower-income households which is part of a $75 million government grant given during the Resilient Budget. Recently, CDCs also successfully raised $4 million with Ngee Ang Kongsi to provide extra relief for Singaporeans affected by COVID-19.
Who Funds the CDCs?
Being involved and in charge of a multitude of islandwide activities, funding is essential to be able to execute all the events successfully. As disclosed in FY 2019 annual report, CDC is “financially supported by donations and Government grants”. This is aligned with the Second Schedule of Peoples’ Association (CDCs) Rules, which states that the CDCs can receive grants from the government and raise funds through public donation.
CDCs can receive a matching $3 grant from the government for every $1 donation, up to a cap of $40 million. As a registered exempt charity under the Institute of Public Character (IPC), donors would be able to enjoy tax deduction of 250% on the donations they have made to CDC.
Based on the annual report for FY2019 released on IPC, CDC raised over $64.5 million in funding with $15.1 million coming from cash and in kind and $45.3 million from government grant. As seen above, most of the funding is eventually channelled into charity activities, with fund-raising expenses kept below $150,000.
According to the code of compliance listed on IPC, the board of CDC does not get renumerated by CDC, as with most charitable organisations. Furthermore, as disclosed by the CDC in their FY2019, their staff are not renumerated more than $100,000 annually. This allows for the funds raised to be channelled directly to the charitable or social and financial support schemes.
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