Starting March this year, the monthly allowance for full-time national servicemen (NSF) and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) across all ranks will be increased from $70 to $120.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How announced the allowance increase in Parliament on Monday (2 March) during the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)’s Committee of Supply debate.
Mr Heng said that the move will benefit all NSmen in their basic personal upkeep and serves as a form of recognition for their contributions to the country.
The allowance, which is reviewed periodically, will include both rank and vocation allowance components, he added.
All national servicemen, under this revised NS allowance, will get a vocation allowance of at least $50 a month, while the combat or operational allowance will be replaced by vocation allowance of up to $100 more.
This means that a recruit or trainee of NSF will receive a monthly allowance of $630, up from the current $560.
The rank of Corporal in Singapore Armed Forces NSF naval diver, Singapore Police Force NSF Police Tactical Trooper, or Singapore Civil Defence Force Firefighter will receive $1,050 a month, up from the current $930.
Apart from that, the trial of PreEnlistees Exercise Programme for National Service (PREP4NS) — a free one-year gym membership scheme — will be extended for future national servicemen to make better preparations for their enlistment.
It was noted that more than 6,000 applicants have signed up for PREP4NS since it launched last November and the trial will be extend to 24 ActiveSG gyms with the registration deadline on 30 April.
NSFs will also be fully subsidised by MINDEF for the Electronic Pre-Release Employment Programme (E-PREP) course fees, which they currently receive up to 90% of subsidy.
They will also be eligible to use the $350 E-PREP credits to fully cover their course fees up to the credit limit starting 1 April.
NSFs intending to enter higher education will also have the option to choose from over 4,000 courses up from the current 3,000 courses in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and Institute of Technical Education.
Touching on support given to pre-enlistees, Mr Heng said that MINDEF has partnered with the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord) to appoint NS coordinators from foreign system schools and privately funded institutions to assist pre-enlistees with their questions on NS.
He noted that some pre-enlistees may encounter challenges before enlistment, as they are new citizens or permanent residents who might not have family or friends that have experienced NS before them.
To enhance the experience of every serviceman, MINDEF also introduced digital technologies such as Smart Central Manpower Base (CMPB) as well as the family scheme such as SAFRA and HomeTeamNS for its national servicemen.
According to MINDEF, the implementation of Smart CMPB will facilitate the process of pre-enlistment, through which pre-enlistees will be notified of their application outcomes such as for deferment and exit permit up to 40 per cent more quickly.
The newly introduced family schemes, added MINDEF, will allow NSFs and their dependents to enjoy SAFRA facilities and benefits at a discounted rate, which it believes will motivate NSFs to “give their best when performing their duties”.