While speaking in Parliament on Monday (2 March), Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How revealed that starting from this month, full-time and operationally ready national servicemen (NSF and NSmen) from all ranks will receive a raise of S$70 to S$120 in their NS allowance every month.
The increment includes raises in both rank and vocation allowance components. Based on this new amount, all national servicemen will get a vocation allowance of a minimum of S$50 per month. As for those who are now getting combat or operational allowance, they will get an additional sum of up to S$100.
This basically means that a serviceman who is the position of Recruit or Trainee will receive S$630 a month, as opposed to the current allowance of S$530.
Mr Heng announced this while delivering a speech in his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
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.
NSFs will also be fully subsidised by Ministry of Defence (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.
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.
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”.
Upon reading the announcement, a large number of netizens applauded the government’s decision to increase the servicemen’ monthly NS allowance.
Penning down their thoughts in the Facebook pages of Channel NewsAsia and Mothership, online users felt that the increment will be helpful for these servicemen, especially those from lower-income families and breadwinners. Others pointed out that they are glad that MINDEF is constantly reviewing the allowance to sustain the NSF’s needs, as well as showing some appreciation to them.
Although some netizens said that the increase in allowance is a good move, others opined that the amount could be more. This is because they explained that these NSmen put their career on hold to service the country, hence they should be given a “fair wage as they put in the same (or more) hours than a typical full time job, not just an allowance”.
However, a bunch of online users slammed the government for such a low amount of monthly increment for these servicemen. They added that the allowance that the NSFs and NSmen are receiving now is equivalent to the salary of foreign maids and construction workers.
Facebook user M H Chua asserted that the amount given is “really cheap” and they should be given a minimum of S$2000. “Thats should be right for the amount of time and risk our boys sacrificed during their (important) years,” he added.
Separately, some felt that the increment is announced suddenly despite people requesting it for years. As such, they felt that this higher allowance could be given possibly as an election-year goodie.