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Mindef's response to question on pegging NS allowance increases to inflation

MP Gerald Giam had asked if NS allowances could be increased due to inflation and rising cost of living. Mindef has responded.

National Service recruits demonstrate hand-to-hand combat moves in Pulau Tekong.
Mindef replies to MP's question on pegging NS allowance increases to inflation. (PHOTO: Getty)

SINGAPORE — While the government monitors overall price levels when calibrating allowances for full-time national servicemen (NSF), it is not the general cost of living that applies to the upkeep of the NSF.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said this on Tuesday (22 February) when asked in parliament if increases in National Service (NS) allowances – the last allowance review was in March 2020 – can be pegged to increasing inflation.

Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam had asked, as a supplementary question, if NS allowance increases can be "pegged to the significant increases in the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) core inflation measure, so as to minimise the lag between the increases in cost of living and the adjustments to NS allowances".

Giam, who is MP for Aljunied GRC, pointed out that the cost of basic upkeep has "increased significantly due to high inflation" since the last allowance review.

Heng replied, "When we provide a calibration of the allowance for our NSF, we certainly will have to monitor the overall price levels within the country but at the same time, it is also very pertinent for us to know and remember that it is not the general cost of living that actually applies to the upkeep of the NSF."

"As I mentioned, lodging, food, clothing and medical care – these are items that impact the overall cost of living and these are already taken care of and paid for by the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) and the Home Team," he added. "We will take everything into account in the review."

When is the next review?

Giam had initially asked if there has been any consideration towards raising the allowances for full-time NSF, given the inflationary pressures and increases in the cost of living in Singapore.

In response, Heng said that "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 NSFs actually stay in camp". The Ministry of Defence (Mindef), Heng added, "regularly reviews and adjusts the allowance".

The minister also noted that three adjustments to NSF allowances had been made over the last 10 years, with the most recent being in March 2020.

Giam also asked if the next allowance review could be brought forward in view of the current high inflationary environment.

Heng reiterated in his reply, "Over the last 10 years, we have conducted no fewer than three reviews, and we will certainly take all these into account, moving forward, as well."

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