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Due to 'time lag' in recording data, some ineligible households qualified for GST Voucher U-Save rebates: MOF

The "time lag" issue affected about 3,100 households, as found by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) in its recent report.

Due to 'time lag' in recording data, some ineligible households qualified for GST Voucher U-Save rebates: MOF

File photo of HDB flats. (Photo: TODAY/Ooi Boon Keong)

SINGAPORE: Some ineligible households qualified for rebates under the GST Voucher-U Save scheme due to “time lag” and “data errors”, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah in Parliament on Monday (Aug 1). 

She was responding to questions about the reasons behind the time lag and the steps taken to verify a household's eligibility, after the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) identified the issue in its report released last month.

The AGO found that GST Voucher-U Save voucher rebates amounting to S$864,500 could have been given to 3,166 ineligible households. 

Ms Indranee noted that one of the eligibility conditions for U-Save rebates is that the household must include a living Singapore citizen. 

"From AGO’s observations, some households were given rebates that they were not eligible for, as the sole Singapore citizen household member had already passed away as of the date used to determine eligibility," she added.

“The error arose as there was a time lag in some deceased citizens’ living status data, due to legal processing of records after their deaths had taken place,” explained Ms Indranee. 

“For example, the date used to determine eligibility was Dec 1. The citizen’s death on Nov 30 might not have been updated in agencies’ database until after Dec 1 as some time is taken to document and process the death record. So the household was tagged as being eligible.” 

And by the time of the AGO audit, the updated data showed the date of death as Nov 30 and the household concerned would not have been eligible, added Ms Indranee.


The time lag issue affected about 3,100 households or about 0.3 per cent of all households living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, noted Ms Indranee. 

There were another 23 cases of U-Save rebates given even though there were no Singapore citizens in the household, “due to errors in agencies’ databases”. 

“While we try to strive to keep our data updated as soon as possible, there are practical constraints,” said Ms Indranee. 

To determine the eligibility of households for the U-Save rebates, the data included the identities of the owners and occupiers of HDB flats, the number and types of properties they own, as well as their citizenship and living status.

“The relevant government agencies have processes in place to keep their databases updated. For additional assurance, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) also engages an external auditor to conduct an annual audit on the allotment logic for U-Save rebates, to make sure that households are given the correct amount of rebates,” added Ms Indranee. 

“For the U-Save payments that were the subject of AGO’s report, no errors were detected during these prior checks.” 


MOF has begun recovering the rebates given to ineligible households, said Ms Indranee. 

She added that the ministry is working with data agencies to tighten its operational processes to ensure the use of the latest available data to administer the GST Voucher U-Save scheme.

A household's eligibility is determined “on a pre-determined cut-off date”, Ms Indranee said, adding that those who do not qualify on that date will not be eligible for the relevant round of rebates. 

“However, should their circumstances change after that date such that they subsequently meet the eligibility criterion, they will be included in the later disbursements of the rebates, provided they remain eligible at the next cut-off date,” she added.

Responding to Member of Parliament Tan Wu Meng's (PAP-Jurong) question on whether there are eligible households who missed out on the U-save rebates, Ms Indranee said there were no system flaws resulting in this.

“Any feedback or appeals regarding eligible households who may not have received their rebates is investigated to ensure that eligible households are not left out,” she added.

Source: CNA/gy(gs)


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