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Progress Package Wins 2007 United Nations Public Service Award

23 May 2007

The United Nations (UN) has conferred the 2007 United Nations Public Service Award for "Improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the Public Service" to the Singapore agencies responsible for delivering the Progress Package. It is one of seven winners worldwide, and one of only two in the Asian region, to be honoured with this recognition by the UN this year. This award recognises the work done through an inter-agency collaboration amongst the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) and other partner agencies to implement and deliver the Progress Package to over 2.3 million adult Singaporeans.

2. Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Finance announced the winning of the award at the 6th Annual PR Academy conference today. Mr Shanmugaratnam said, "Our quality of governance is well recognized internationally. Just this week, we were informed that Singapore had won the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award for last year's Progress Package''. He said, ''It is a reflection of the high quality throughout our system, not just a few individuals. The Progress Package was about the ability to seamlessly deliver government services as one package despite having different schemes, each with a different agency in charge. But it was also about reaching out to Singaporeans, especially those in the lower income groups and the elderly, through a partnership between the Government, unions, grassroots organisations, VWOs and other volunteers. It was a demonstration of Singapore's social compact at work."

3. The Progress Package was a surplus-sharing initiative that benefited all adult Singaporeans, with more for lower-income and older Singaporeans. It comprised six different schemes: Growth Dividends; Workfare Bonus Scheme; Utilities-Save, Service & Conservancy and Rental Rebates; Top-ups to CPF Special/Retirement & Medisave Accounts; Opportunity Funds to MOE schools and self-help groups; and 40th Anniversary National Service (NS) Bonus. Through consolidating the different schemes into a single package and providing a common government touch point (website, email address, phone services and letters), Singaporeans could easily access information on their benefits and sign up for their Progress Package.

4. To reach out to elderly and low-income Singaporeans to help them sign up for their Progress Package and Workfare Bonus, MOF, MOM and CPFB worked closely with the People's Association, Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), nursing homes, welfare homes, and the Singapore Prisons Service.

5. The successful outreach resulted in 97% of all eligible Singaporeans having signed up by the end of the Progress Package exercise in December 2006. This translated to more than S$2 billion being disbursed to the intended beneficiaries. In particular, the Workfare Bonus Scheme benefited more than 340,000 low-income Singaporean workers, each of whom improved his income by up to 12.5% for 2006. The Progress Package had also encouraged wealthier Singaporeans to help less well-off members of society through an online donation portal, with a total of more than $800,000 being donated to various charities.

6. MOF, MOM and CPFB will be receiving the award at the 7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government in Vienna from 26-29 June 2007. The full list of winners is attached at Annex A.