SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) announced that it has taken enforcement action against over 4,400 individuals who submitted false SkillsFuture Credit claims, totalling about $2.2 million.
In end January this year, SSG said that it has discovered about 4,400 individuals who have submitted false claims, effectively encashing their SkillsFuture Credit without attending any courses.
“The vast majority – over two-thirds of the claims – were submitted towards the end of Jan 2017, and were flagged out by the data analytics system,” it said.
SSG noted that it has issued letters to these individuals to recover the monies.
SSG stressed that the objective of the SkillsFuture Credit is to empower Singaporeans aged 25 years and above to re-skill or upgrade their skills. In this spirit, the course directory and claims process were designed to be simple, inclusive and user-friendly.
“It is regrettable that some individuals have abused the system and submitted false claims,” it said.
SSG said that it takes this abuse of the SkillsFuture Credit very seriously and will take the necessary action against these individuals. Individuals who provide false information to SSG are in breach of Section 58 of the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency Act which carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 fine and imprisonment of up to 12 months or both.
According to the statement, until this incident, the number of false claims submitted by individuals has been low, with about 80 such claims detected per month in the last few months. Since the incident, SSG has stepped up its audit and enforcement efforts, which include stepping up data analytics to detect anomalies, more regular audits of training providers and individual claims.
These are the immediate steps said to be taken by SSG to tighten the enforcement system as follows:
- Conduct mystery shopping audits to address unethical and misleading marketing practices. This is following a recent move to issue a set of marketing guidelines to training providers.
- Intensify the scope and frequency of checks and audits, on training providers and also individual claims.
- Strengthen the sensitivity of data analytics system in flagging out anomalies.
- Make more explicit the penalties for false claims when individuals submit their claims.
- Continue taking errant users of the system to task.
- Set up a Process Review Committee comprising SSG Board members, to conduct a review of the policies and procedures relating to the processing of all training-related claims and disbursements to training providers, employers and individuals, and identify how these can be further strengthened.
Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive of SkillsFuture Singapore, said, “This is a serious incident of false claims involving SkillsFuture Credit, and we have taken immediate steps to recover the monies involved. We have also stepped up our checks and audits. All of us have a part to play in ensuring that the SkillsFuture Credit initiative works well.”