55 arrested so far over thefts of Budget 2020 grocery vouchers: Indranee

·Senior News & Video Producer
·2-min read
Budget 2020 Grocery Vouchers recovered by Singapore Police Force. (PHOTO: Singapore Police Force).
Budget 2020 Grocery Vouchers recovered by Singapore Police Force. (PHOTO: Singapore Police Force).

SINGAPORE — Fifty-five people have been arrested so far for stealing Budget 2020 grocery vouchers, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Officer and Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah in Parliament on Monday (2 November).

While around 150,000 sets of vouchers, each worth $150, were mailed out via tracked registered mail in October, 229 sets – less than 0.2 per cent – have been reported as stolen, she said in her reply to questions raised by Members of Parliament.

“The thefts appear to be opportunistic, and the cases are not linked. In some cases, the recipients had left the letter boxes unlocked,” said Indranee.

She added that the small number of vouchers reported as stolen have been voided and replacement vouchers are being issued to eligible recipients.

The Budget 2020 grocery vouchers are aimed at helping less well-off Singaporeans with their household expenses. All Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020 who are living in one- or two-room flats and do not own more than one property are eligible to receive them.

Regarding the choice of delivery mode for the vouchers, Indranee said a balance had to be struck between public health constraints amid the COVID-19 pandemic, convenience for the recipients and security.

“Some of the recipients may not own a smartphone, have a mobile data plan or be digitally ready. If digital vouchers were used, more time and effort would have been needed to first provide appropriate digital interfaces,” she noted. “That said, as digital literacy improves among older Singaporeans, we may be able to consider digital vouchers for this group in future.”

While self-collection at community clubs or centres was considered, she said this would have been inconvenient for senior citizens, especially those with mobility issues, and possibly cause crowding at collection points.

She also explained that with Singapore Post having adopted contactless delivery measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this saw the redirection of registered mail to people’s letterboxes.

“SingPost will monitor and verify successful deliveries to recipients’ letter boxes with a photo taken by the postman as proof of delivery to mitigate theft and fraud. Each voucher has unique features which enable us to identify the intended recipient and trace any voucher to specific locations and time of transaction,” said Indranee.

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