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New Support Fund to Help 4,000 Households Impacted by COVID-19

4 August 2020

Fund will also aid asatizah economically impacted by the COVID-19 situation

1. Many Singaporeans affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic are currently assisted by the government through the various relief packages. While this has been an important source of help, various support schemes from community groups play an important role to complement the national help schemes available. Since the start of the year, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has seen a noticeable increase in the number of families receiving Zakat monthly financial assistance, reflective of the challenging economic situation. To further help families in need in the challenging months ahead, Muis will be providing additional support from Zakat. Earlier in April, Muis had announced that families receiving Zakat financial assistance would be automatically renewed for a period of 6-months when their assistance expires, to avoid the need for these families to reapply.

New Support Fund to Provide One-off Relief to Families

2. The Fatwa Committee agreed in May 2020 that those impacted financially by COVID-19 pandemic through loss of jobs or whose household income are drastically affected do constitute a group of beneficiaries who qualify for zakat assistance. The committee further recommends that aid can be put together drawing from at least three traditional categories (fakir miskin1, gharimin2, fisabilillah3 and riqab4). In doing so, Muis as the Zakat authority will be able to preserve and retain the use of the traditional categories for existing cases, whilst dedicating some funds for a new group of recipients who face financial hardships due to the pandemic. This will also demonstrate the responsiveness of Zakat as a tool for financial assistance in times of need in a more direct way, and as stimulus to encourage many Muslims to come forward and help.

3. Accordingly, Muis will allocate $1.6 million for the COVID-19 Muis Support Fund (CMSF) to help ease financial burden of households affected by the economic uncertainty resulting from the current pandemic. The support fund aims to assist 4,000 households with each eligible household receiving a one-off assistance of $400.

4. The assistance is only open to individuals who are not current beneficiaries of zakat or ComCare financial assistance, and extra consideration will be given to those who have not received any sort of COVID-19 related assistance. The support fund also seeks to financially support families whose children’s Islamic Learning classes had to be disrupted due to lack of means.

5. The CMSF also aims to assist people who are self-employed and employees who have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. As such, individuals who have not been in employment before the start of the COVID-19 period would not be eligible5. Application for the fund starts on 10 August 2020 and will be open until the end of the month. At the end of the application exercise, Muis will shortlist 4,000 applications who are most in need based on their per capita income. Refer to Annex A for full application criteria and process. To apply, click here.

Financial Assistance Package for Asatizah

6. Under this round of assistance, Muis will also allocate $200,000 under CMSF to support asatizah and their families during the pandemic. The asatizah fraternity too are adversely affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, particularly those who are self-employed and doing freelance teaching. This is due to the earlier mosque closures and continued suspension of physical classes at mosques.

7. The one-off top-up grant will be channelled to asatizah through the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association’s (Pergas) Gracious Package. This package is a financial assistance scheme Pergas initiated and offered specifically for asatizah in March 2020 at the onset of the Circuit Breaker period. The top-up grant will be utilised to provide more support for current Gracious Package recipients and also to support new applicants. Refer to Annex B for more info about the assistance for asatizah. 

MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA

1 Fakir is a category when an individual has neither material possession nor means of livelihood; one who suffers, and has no means to sustain his/her daily needs. The definition of Miskin refers to when an individual has insufficient means of livelihood to meet his /her basic needs.

2 Gharimin is the category when an individual is in debt and needs assistance to meet his/her basic needs.

3 Fisabilillah is when an individual strives in the cause of Allah for the betterment of the community.

4 The category of Riqab in Singapore refers to those who require some assistance to pursue their education, children of zakat recipients. More details of the above categories of beneficiaries of zakat (asnaf) can be found at www.muis.gov.sg/Zakat/About/Beneficiaries-of-Zakat-Asnaf

5 23 January 2020 is the date determined as to when COVID-19 first occurred in Singapore.

Annexes - COVID-19 Muis Support Fund & Pergas Gracious Package