After the Government announced that those who automatically eligible for Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will receive their first payouts on 27 May, many netizens have flooded the social media with their concerns on their application or appeal being rejected and ignored by the authorities.
According to the joint statement by Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on Thursday (28 May), over 100,000 Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) will received the first payout of $3,000 under SIRS last Wednesday (27 May).
It said that NTUC will notified another 17,000 successful applicants from 27 May and deliver the payout from 29 May, followed by the notifications to subsequent batches of successful applicants.
The successful applicants will receive three payouts, in which the next two payments of the same amount will be made in July and October this year.
In its statement, the authorities noted that a hard copy letter will also be sent out to the automatically eligible SEPs by this week, on top of sending SMS to notify their eligibility on 22 May for those with a SingPass registered mobile number.
It also added that automatically eligible SEPs with Government-registered bank accounts would have received the first payment by direct credit banking on 27 May, while the others SEPs will receive the cheques by mail to their Government-registered residential addresses by 15 June.
However, the authorities stated, “SEPs who do not receive any notification by this week are not automatically eligible. We encourage them to submit their application to NTUC at www.ntuc.com.sg/SIRS. NTUC will assess each case carefully.”
On Thursday (28 May), NTUC took to its Facebook page, informing that the notifications of SIRS application’s outcome will be sending out “progressively over a few days” due to the large volume of applications.
“Application processing time is approximately one month from the date of your latest and complete submission. Notifications will be sent via email/letter and SMS,” NTUC wrote on its post.
In response to netizens’ queries, NTUC also said that it will notify the applicants the outcome of application whether successful or unsuccessful.
NTUC reiterated that those who do not have a SingPass registered mobile number would not be able to receive the auto-inclusion SMS, instead they will have to wait for the letter sent by the Government on their application’s outcome.
Meanwhile, NTUC also said that the outcome of applications as well as the reason of unsuccessful application are unable to reveal by their officers as they claimed it did not manage the auto-inclusion list.
“Please note that our Customer Service agents will not be able to disclose whether applications have been approved or rejected over the phone. We are also not able to share why SEPs are not on the auto-inclusion list as the list is not managed by NTUC,” it said.
SIRS scheme was introduced by the Government in March as part of COVID-19 support measures to help the SEPS in the midst of economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
To automatically eligible for SIRS, the Singaporean SEPs must meet the criteria including earning a net trade income (NTI) of no more than $100,000 a year, and living in a property with an annual value of no more than $21,000.
For the married Singaporean SEPs, both of the individual and spouse together do not own two or more properties and the assessable income of the spouse does not exceed $70,000.
It was reported that the first payment of SIRS that disbursed to support eligible SEPs during COVID-19 period was amounted to over $360 million.
Netizens are disappointed over the outcome of SIRS application
Following the notifications of SIRS application outcome, many Singaporeans penned their thought on the Facebook page of Mother ship.sg and NTUC, expressing their disappointment over their unsuccessful application. They questioned how the authorities select the automatically eligible SEPs as they have fulfilled the criteria for the SIRS as well.
One netizen complained that he has not received any notifications about his application while his friends who applied later than him, have already received the notifications.
Questioning the fairness of application system, Tan asked, “Is it fair for those submitting earlier [than] others but still not getting any notification and have to wait longer on the payout [than] those submitting later [than] us.”
Apart from this, a few netizens also raised issue about the inconsistency of the information regarding the automatic qualifying criteria for SIRS. They shared that they were being told earlier that they are automatically eligible, but were subsequently told that they are not under the list.
Due to the number of unsuccessful applications, netizens doubted whether the “generous” Government’s support budget meant to aid the citizens to tide over this difficult time is what it was touted to be. Some commented that the budget is “over promised and totally under delivered”.
A few netizens also shared their predicament during this COVID-19 period. One netizen, Kaiser Ko expressed his disappointment for not being auto included for SIRS. He questioned why younger generations have had their application approved as compared to those who are 40-years-old and 50-years-old self-employed breadwinners and not in the auto-inclusion list.
Another netizen, Eugene Koh who is a self-proclaimed senior citizen and freelancer in a travel industry, also voiced out the predicament faced where he was not qualified to apply the scheme due to his past commission income. He pointed out that his past income is what it had been because the industry has been hit hard by COVID-19.
“This is my situation but people don’t understand and only based on your past incomes which is not fair,” he wrote.
Some netizens raised various “discrepancies” on the criteria for successful applications, requesting for the authorities to clarify the reasons of unsuccessful applications to show the transparency.
Following the outpour of grievance online, NTUC went on its Facebook page on Friday (29 May) and stated the reasons of why the SIRS application being rejected .
It was noted that the main reasons that led to unsuccessful application includes:
- Applicant did not meet two or more criteria;
- Applicant missed one criteria by a wide margin, such as annual value of property;
- Applicant has not declared any net trade income;
- Applicant’s employment income does not meet criteria;
- Based on income declaration, applicant is not an SEP;
- The income of applicant has been filled in the wrong category, which caused the applicants have no trade income or exceed the employment income limit.
However, its “clarifications” do not seem to answer the questions that the Singapore netizens have raised.