SINGAPORE — In a move to further support its national servicemen, the Singapore government has announced an increase in the National Service (NS) allowance, effective from 1 July 2023.
National servicemen serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will receive an increment ranging from $125 to $200, depending on their rank and vocation.
This adjustment will result in a substantial rise of 10.9% to 21.7% in the NS allowances received by these individuals, said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement issued on Monday (29 May).
The statement noted that the NS allowance, which aims to cover the basic personal expenses of full-time national servicemen (NSFs), is periodically reviewed and adjusted to ensure its adequacy.
Three adjustments have been made over the last ten years, the most recent being in March 2020 when allowances were increased by $70 to $120.
For instance, under the revised scheme, an NSF holding the rank of Recruit/Trainee will see their monthly NS allowance rise from the current $630 to $755.
An SAF NSF naval diver or SPF NSF Police Tactical Trooper or SCDF NSF firefighter holding the rank of Corporal will receive a monthly NS allowance of $1,250, up from the current $1,050.
A detailed comparison between the current and revised monthly NS allowance is provided in Table 1.
Table 1: Current and Revised Monthly NS Allowance (per month)
In February, MINDEF rejected WP MP’s proposal to peg NS allowances to inflation, but announces increase now
It is worth to note that back in February this year, Mr Gerald Giam, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC filed a parliamentary question, to ask the Defence Minsiter whether there had been any consideration towards increasing the allowances for NSFs, given the inflationary pressures and increases in the cost of living.
While MINDEF assured that it will continue to conduct such regular reviews and make adjustments when necessary, but it also rejected the proposed to have their allowances pegged to inflation in Singapore.
However, the ministry has now decided to increase these allowances.
Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State for Defence, replied at that time, “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.
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 of 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.”