SINGAPORE: Up to 1.22 million Singaporean households can claim another S$100 worth of Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers from Wednesday (May 11), with the launch of a new tranche of vouchers.
The latest tranche of the vouchers, meant to help households with daily expenses while supporting heartland hawkers and merchants, is part of a S$560 million Household Support Package announced by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in Budget 2022.
The disbursement was brought forward from the third quarter of the year to mid-May, amid a global rise in prices that has pushed up business and living costs.
It follows the provision of S$100 worth of CDC vouchers in December 2021, which were distributed digitally for the first time, replacing physical vouchers.
Households have until the end of 2022 to claim and spend the vouchers from this year’s and last year’s schemes.
HOW TO CLAIM?
The process of claiming the vouchers is the same as that of the previous tranche. Only one family member is required to log in to their Singpass account to claim the vouchers on behalf of their household.
A link for the vouchers will then be sent to the registered mobile phone number of the claimant, who can then share it with household members.
Residents can spend the vouchers at more than 16,000 participating hawkers and heartland merchants, identified by a CDC voucher decal.
The voucher scheme will “retain its digital format”, said the CDC and People’s Association.
They added that help will continue to be provided to less digitally-savvy citizens. For instance, these individuals can head to community centres or SG Digital Community Hubs for assistance.
“Where needed, there will also be the option of printing hardcopy vouchers at the community centres," they said.
"EARLY INDICATORS OF SUCCESS"
At an event marking the launch of the vouchers, Mr Wong said authorities were “mindful of the risks and the fact that many things could go wrong” when the scheme was first conceived, including concerns for those who were less digitally savvy.
But there has been “encouraging feedback”, with many seniors able to use the vouchers and businesses noting the ease of using the system.
Some “early indicators of success” include how more than 1.1 million households – or 93 per cent of all Singaporean households – have claimed the first tranche of vouchers since they were launched less than five months ago. This is comparable to the "previous experience" with physical vouchers, said Mr Wong.
Close to S$85 million in vouchers has been spent, representing about 70 per cent of the total amount of vouchers allocated, he added.
“The CDC vouchers are a small, but I hope, a meaningful gesture of support for all Singaporeans during this time of rising prices," said the Finance Minister.
Mr Wong also noted that many countries are facing rising prices because of the Ukraine war and continued supply chain disruptions.
"Even countries that are oil and gas exporters are facing higher prices, let alone a small and open economy like Singapore that imports almost everything we consume," he said.
“So we do have to brace ourselves ... for higher prices for some time. But rest assured that the Government will continue to do our utmost to help cushion the impact for Singaporeans, especially for our lower- and middle-income families.”
Authorities are monitoring the situation, and will not hesitate to implement more measures to help households and businesses if the situation worsens, he said.
GIVING HAWKERS, MERCHANTS A BOOST
Ms Low Yen Ling, Chairperson of the Mayors’ Committee and Mayor of the South West District, also noted how the “positive user experience” of the digital vouchers has contributed to the “overall high amount of spending” recorded by households.
“Half of those who claimed the 2021 digital vouchers have spent all the given amount under five months,” she said.
This has given hawkers and merchants a boost.
For instance, within the first two weeks of the vouchers' launch last December, the Ang Mo Kio Constituency Merchants Association saw a 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase in footfall, said Ms Low, who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Trade and Industry.
In particular, out of the nearly S$85 million in spending from the first tranche of vouchers, 46 per cent was spent at food & beverage outlets, she said.
About 42 per cent went towards trades and services, including purchases at wet and dry markets and neighbourhood shops. The remaining 12 per cent was spent at small minimarts, Ms Low added.
Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, president of the Federation of Merchants’ Associations Singapore, said: “The CDC vouchers have had such a positive impact on our merchants as it provided many with opportunities to boost their businesses.
“This gesture of appreciation can go a long way in helping small businesses survive.”
Under the Assurance Package – also announced in Budget 2022 – two tranches of CDC vouchers worth S$200 each will be given to all Singaporean households in 2023 and 2024. Shoppers will also be able to use the vouchers at major supermarkets.
The launch of the 2023 tranche has been planned for “early next year”, said Mr Wong.
With the growing prevalence of scams, Ms Low said authorities have been keeping a close lookout for potential cases of fraud or scams involving CDC vouchers.
"We've been working very closely with (the police's) anti-scam team, and put in place the necessary process – a very robust and rigorous process – behind the scenes, in case there are any possible scams or fraudulent incidents," she said, adding that there have been no such incidents so far.
In an update on a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Mr Wong said that around 230,000 households have claimed their CDC vouchers as of 9pm.