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Proposed: More monetary rewards for NSmen

National Servicemen could receive S$6,000 more in NS HOME Awards as well as higher IPPT financial incentives should new proposals be accepted.

SINGAPORE: National Servicemen could receive more monetary rewards as part of a new NS HOME (Housing, Medical and Education) Awards, should proposals raised by the Committee to Strengthen National Service be accepted by the Government.

The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) recommended disbursing S$2,000 extra, in Medisave grants, at each of the three “milestones” an NSmen reaches, under the proposed NS HOME Awards, which will replace the existing National Service Recognition Award (NSRA).

Currently, the NSRA pays S$3,000 each, when one completes fulltime NS, is at the mid-point of the Operationally-Ready NS Training Cycle, and upon completion of his NS obligations. With the exception of the first payout, which goes into an NSman’s Post-Secondary Education Account, the other two disbursements are split among the Ordinary, Medisave and Special accounts.

Under the proposed new award, the first tranche of S$3,000 will still go into an NSman's Post-Secondary Education Account. The S$3,000 at the second and third milestones will go only into the Ordinary Account, while the extra S$2,000 for each milestone will go into the Medisave Account.

This is one of a raft of recommendations the CSNS has submitted for the Government’s consideration on Thursday. The timeline for the various proposed changes to kick in depends on when they get accepted by the Government.

The recommendations were made after an extensive public consultation exercise lasting about a year. It engaged more than 40,000 people who are stakeholders of National Service (NS). Apart from NSmen, employers, new citizens, women and pre-enlistees were also consulted.

Providing an overview of the recommendations at a press conference, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, the chairman of the Committee, noted: "The benefits must never become a monetary transaction for services rendered."

IPPT AND RT

Among the other proposals, NSmen who fail their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will have a longer period to complete their 20 remedial training (RT) sessions – increased from the current three months to one year.

The Committee also proposed increasing the incentives by S$100 for achieving an IPPT pass with incentive, silver or gold to S$200, S$300 and S$500 respectively.

Another recommendation was to scrap the rule that requires NSmen to notify Mindef on overseas trips unless they are more than two weeks in duration. NSmen will still have to inform the ministry if the overseas trip is more than six months. The current rules state that any NSman out of the country for 24 hours or more has to notify the ministry.

MORE REGULARS

Separately, the committee proposed the hiring of 1,100 more regulars for the Singapore Armed Forces and 230 for the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), with an aim to improve training and inculcate values more effectively.

Raising the proportion of officers and specialists from 30 to 40 per cent was also recommended to increase leadership opportunities for full-time National Servicemen (NSFs). Skills picked up by full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) could also be accredited to highlight their competencies and skills gained during NS, the CSNS said.

VOLUNTEER CORPS

The CSNS’ recommendations also revealed more details of the proposed SAF Volunteer Corps. In their proposal, women, new citizens and first-generation Permanent Residents (PRs) who volunteer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) could be given a four-week training course, followed by one to two weeks of annual commitment for a minimum of three years.

Said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, who chaired the working group on support for NS: "They are doing it because they want to... It's an added statement on the commitment of our people beyond the NS pool we have." 

SHORTER GAP BETWEEN SCHOOL, NS

The enlistment wait-time for pre-enlistees could also be shortened to four to six months after completion of post-secondary education, said the Committee, which suggests that 90 per cent of pre-enlistees should be enlisted within four months after post-secondary studies, up from 45 per cent now. The authorities are also looking to work with tertiary institutions to reduce transition time after NS.

The Committee, comprising several ministers, top military brass, is chaired by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

The recommendations are meant at create more opportunities for NSmen to contribute to national defence, establish a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer Corps, and strengthen recognition and benefits for NSmen.

It also strives to expand community support for servicemen, and create a positive NS experience through the easing of administrative restrictions, and strengthen the NS training system.

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