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Parliamentary Replies

Flexibility in Administering COVID-19 Relief Schemes

06 Oct 2020
Parliamentary Question by Yip Hon Weng:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance whether the Ministry can consider being more flexible in administering COVID-19 relief schemes for (i) those who stay in landed properties that they may not own and (ii) Merdeka and Pioneer Generation Singaporeans especially those with chronic health conditions.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:

The COVID-19 relief schemes, such as the COVID-19 Support Grant and the SEP Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) are intended to provide support to those who have been adversely affected by the current economic uncertainty and have less means. To ensure that schemes prioritise those who are in greater need of support, the Government uses a range of eligibility criteria, including the Annual Value (AV) of one’s property of residence. The current AV threshold of $21,000 covers all HDB flats and a good number of lower-value private properties. 

While there is no perfect way of assessing a person’s financial situation, a person living in a high-value property with his family is in general more likely to be supported by family resources, even if the individual does not own the property. Nevertheless, we will consider appeals by those who face extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis. 

To help Singaporeans cope with the impact of COVID-19, we have also provided broad-based help to families, including those who are living in larger property types.  For example, the Solidarity Payment and Care and Support – Cash schemes did not have AV as a criterion.  In addition, as suggested by the Member, the Care and Support -Cash scheme includes an additional payout for our seniors, including those of the Pioneer Generation (PG) and Merdeka Generation (MG).    

PG and MG seniors also continue to receive additional lifelong healthcare benefits. These benefits include annual MediSave top-ups, special MediShield Life premium subsidies, and additional outpatient care subsidies. Together, they provide our PG and MG seniors a greater peace of mind over their healthcare costs. 

Those who require further financial support may seek help through the MSF Social Service Offices (SSOs). MSF has also exercised more flexibility when considering ComCare applications during this period, to ensure affected Singaporeans and their families, can get help.