YOG budget over-run, Comcare budget under-run?

Leong Sze Hian

I was about to leave home to attend the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) 10th Anniversary Giving 2.0 Forum, when The Online Citizen’s Chief Editor, Andrew Loh, asked me if I would like to write something about YOG, and suggested that I may possibly relate it to Comcare.

My initial reaction was: what has YOG got to do with Comcare?

At the forum, the Guest-of-Honour Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), said that charities and volunteer organisations should ask, “What outcome do you want to achieve?”

It then dawned on me: isn’t the YOG and Comcare both under MCYS?

In the same vein, I would like to ask, what outcome does Comcare want to achieve for the needy in Singapore?

Before I get into Comcare, let’s talk about YOG.

Why is there a three times budget overrun?

Shouldn’t there be some accounting or inquiry as to how this happened?

What are the lessons to be learned, so that this may not occur again in the future?

Where will the money for the budget overrun come from?

Is it from MCYS?

As there were media reports of less than expected ticket sales, what percentage of tickets has been sold? The Straits Times on 7 July reports that out of the 245,000 tickets available, 100,000 have been sold so far. Out of these 100,000, it is telling that the Ministry of Education has bought 80,000 of them! [See picture, right]

Who bought the other 20,000 tickets and what percentage of tickets has been given away?

As there were also media reports about less than expected sponsorship, how much was raised from sponsors?

What was the percentage of the sponsorship budget achieved?

If it were any other country or organisation, there would surely have been an inquiry into what the final budget overrun will be, when the YOG ends.

Will this happen in Singapore?

And now to Comcare.

I guess Andrew and others may be thinking – imagine what the amount of the YOG budget overrun can do if it is made available to help the needy under Comcare!

By the way, the YOG budget is now more than four times Comcare’s $92 million annual budget.

According to the article, “Longer-term aid for two needy groups” (ST, Jun 8):

“The CDC received more than 48,000 social assistance applications last year,  about 11,700 or 32 per cent  more than  2008.”

If just one CDC (South West) had 48,000 social assistance applications in one year, how many applications were there in total, for the five CDCs?

The case cited in that report, of how the CDC helped needy families – a family with seven mouths to feed, living from hand to mouth, and the children staying in class during recess time to study because they did not want their friends to know that they could not afford to eat, being given $300 a month of assistance by the CDC, most of which went to paying utilities – begs the question as to whether the assistance is adequate for needy families.

How does a family of seven, or for that matter even a typical family of four, survive on just $300 a month?

As I understand that the maximum financial assistance to a needy family is about $300+ a month, is there some process to access the adequacy of the assistance given?

Whilst  I applaud the South West CDC’s new initiative to extend the  normal  interim assistance to longer-term aid for chronic needy  families and vulnerable elderly folk,  extending the  period of aid is but one part of the solution, what is equally if not more important is the adequacy of the assistance.

I find the  findings of the survey of more than 3,000 vulnerable elderly folk in August last year rather alarming, as although  nearly seven in 10 have at least one chronic illness, only one in five relies on savings and/or receive financial support from the CDC and other help agencies.

Why is it that so few (only 20 per cent) of the vulnerable elderly are getting financial support from the CDC or other help agencies?

As one in four does not even know whom to approach for financial assistance, it may indicate that much more needs to be done in reaching out to them.

Finally, why was MCYS’s budget operating grant decreased by $52 million or about 11 per cent, from $478 million in FY2009 to $426 million for FY2010, in the midst of Singapore’s worst recession?

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