Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Defence whether there has been any consideration towards raising the allowances for full-time National Servicemen in view of inflationary pressures and increases in the cost of living.
The Senior Minister of State for Defence (Mr Heng Chee How) (for the Minister for Defence): Sir, full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) receive an allowance to support their basic personal upkeep. The allowance takes into account that lodging, food, clothing and medical care are provided for by the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team given that most NSFs stay in camp.
MINDEF regularly reviews and adjusts the allowance. Three adjustments have been made over the last 10 years, the most recent being in March 2020. MINDEF will continue to conduct such regular reviews and where necessary, adjust the allowances.
Mr Speaker: Mr Gerald Giam.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): I thank the Senior Minister of State for his reply. Since NS allowances were last increased in March 2020, the cost of basic upkeep has increased significantly due to high inflation that started around mid-2021. So, can NS allowance increases be pegged to the significant increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) core inflation measure, so as to minimise the lag between the increases in cost of living and the adjustments to NS allowances? Secondly, when will the next review of NS allowances be held and can that be brought forward in view of the high and persistent inflation that we are facing?
Mr Heng Chee How: Sir, I thank the Member for his supplementary questions. As I mentioned in my reply, when we provide a calibration of the allowance for our NSFs, we certainly will have to monitor the overall price levels within the country.
But at the same time, it is also very pertinent for us to know and remember that it is not the general cost of living that actually applies to the upkeep of NSFs. Because as I have mentioned, lodging, food, clothing and medical care – these are items that would impact the overall cost of living. And these are already taken care of and paid for by the Singapore Armed Forces, as well as the Home Team for NSFs.
So, we will take everything into account in the review. And again, as I have mentioned, if you look back over the last 10 years, we have conducted no fewer than three reviews and we will certainly take all these into account going forward as well.
Ministry of Defence
22 February 2023