MINDEF rejects WP MP’s proposal to peg National Servicemen allowances to inflation

MINDEF rejects WP MP’s proposal to peg National Servicemen allowances to inflation

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has affirmed that it will continue to conduct regular reviews of the allowances for full-time national servicemen (NSF) and make adjustments as necessary. However, it rejected the proposed to have their allowances pegged to inflation in Singapore.

Senior Minister of State for Defence, Heng Chee How, made the announcement in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Gerald Giam, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC.

Mr Giam had asked whether there had been any consideration towards increasing the allowances for NSFs, given the inflationary pressures and increases in the cost of living.

In response, Mr Heng said, “The allowance takes into account that lodging, food, clothing and medical care are provided for by the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team, given that most NSF actually stay in camp, MINDEF regularly reviews and adjusts the allowances.”

Heng noted that MINDEF had already made three adjustments to the allowances in the last ten years, with the most recent one taking place in March 2020. He confirmed that MINDEF would continue to conduct such regular reviews and make adjustments when necessary.

In a supplementary question, Giam highlighted that NS allowances had not been increased since March 2020, while the cost of basic upkeep had significantly increased due to high inflation since mid-2021. He asked whether MINDEF could peg the NS allowance increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Singapore’s MAS core inflation measure to minimize the lag between the cost of living and the adjustments to NS allowances.

CPI in Singapore increased to 111.20 points in December 2022 from 99.9 points in March of 2020.

Heng responded by stating that MINDEF would monitor the overall price levels in the country to calibrate the allowance for NSFs. But at the same time, he emphasised that the general cost of living did not apply to the upkeep of NSFs, as their lodging, food, clothing, and medical care were already taken care of by the SAF and Home Team.

“These are items that would affect the overall general cost of living, and these are already taken care and paid for by the Singapore Armed Forces as well as the Home Team for their NSFs.”

“And again, as I mentioned, if you look back over the last ten years, we have conducted no fewer than three reviews, and we will certainly take all this into account going forward as well.”

In March 2020, MINDEF increased the allowances of full-time and operationally ready NSmen across all ranks by S$70 to S$120 per month.

The raise included increments in both rank and vocation allowance components, with all NSmen receiving a vocation allowance of at least S$50 a month. Those who currently received combat or operational allowances received up to S$100 more.

The pay for NSF holding the rank of Recruit or Trainee was revised to S$630 a month, up from the previous S$560.

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