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Forum: Large number of applications and rigorous checks led to delays in approval of grants, Forum News & Top Stories

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We refer to Mr Daniel Tan Jia Hao’s letter, “Make it easier for SMEs to apply for business grants” (June 26), Mr Tan Yong Sang’s letter, “Stuck in a cycle of questions-answers-questions for months after applying for grant” (June 30), and Mr Liew Meow Koon’s letter, “Long delays in approval for business grants are disheartening for SMEs” (June 30).

We regret the delays that the writers have experienced in relation to grant applications and claims. Covid-19 has been tough on businesses.

We acknowledge that timely support is important to help to ease the impact of the pandemic while encouraging transformation to prepare for the future.

Over the past year, we have received an overwhelming number of applications, particularly for the Covid-19-related schemes.

Applications for the Productivity Solutions Grant alone increased about eight times compared with the 2019 number.

This has resulted in longer time taken for grant approvals. To address this, we have committed additional resources to speed up the assessment and approvals.

At the same time, agencies have to have rigorous processes to evaluate grant applications and claims to ensure proper stewardship of public monies.

Claims must be backed by proper documentation and where necessary, our officers may require additional checks or verification. We seek businesses’ understanding on this.

We also thank the writers for their constructive feedback on the Business Grants Portal.

We will look into the points raised and would like to assure businesses that we are committed to continually improving the system and our administrative processes.

Our business advisers at the SME Centres are also ready to help businesses identify the most appropriate support for their needs as well as guide them through the qualifying criteria and application processes.

We look forward to the continued partnership with enterprises, and welcome feedback to work towards a smoother transformation journey.

John Samuel

Director, Enterprise Development Division

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Joanne Tan

Assistant Chief Executive Officer

Capability Programmes and Planning

Enterprise Singapore