January 4, 2024
SINGAPORE – Every Singaporean household now has $500 to help with daily expenses.
From Jan 3, these households can claim $500 worth of Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers, which can be used at participating supermarkets and heartland businesses.
Launching the latest voucher scheme at Jalan Besar Community Club on Jan 3, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said the Ministry of Finance is now working on Budget 2024 and is studying ways to provide additional support for Singaporeans.
The new edition of CDC vouchers provides households with $200 more help than the last tranche in 2023. As with the previous round, half the vouchers can be used at supermarkets, and half at hawker stalls and heartland merchants.
The January 2024 CDC vouchers will be disbursed to about 1.27 million Singaporean households and cost the Government $635 million. As at 8pm, more than 450,000 households have claimed their vouchers.
Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said the vouchers are part of a comprehensive package of support from the Government to cushion the effects of inflation.
Other assistance includes up to $800 in cash from the Assurance Package that was disbursed in December 2023, and cash payouts for eligible seniors and MediSave top-ups in February.
Essentially, an “entire schedule of assistance and payouts” has been planned, including offsets to help Housing Board households with their utility bills and service and conservancy charges, he said.
While 2023 saw a difficult external environment result in lower growth for Singapore, and households feeling the pressure of higher costs of living, Mr Wong said there are some signs that 2024 will be better.
Inflation should continue on a broad moderating trend, while the economy is expected to gradually improve, in particular the manufacturing sector, he said.
But downside risks and dark clouds also loom, such as armed conflict around the world and continued geopolitical tension as major powers contest for influence. “All this can have an impact on the global economy, which remains vulnerable and fragile,” he said.
Mr Wong said new challenges and disruptions are why the Government decided to continue with the scheme, which was launched in December 2021 to support heartland merchants and hawkers badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2023 vouchers saw the highest claim figures among all previous tranches, with 97.7 per cent of the 1.27 million eligible households having claimed their vouchers as at Dec 31, 2023.
Of the claimed vouchers, more than $360 million, or 96.5 per cent, has been spent with participating hawkers, heartland merchants and supermarkets.
This year’s vouchers will be accepted at more supermarkets, with Cold Storage being the latest chain to come on board. The other seven supermarket chains where they can be used are Ang Mo Supermarket, FairPrice, Giant, Hao Mart, Prime, Sheng Siong and U Stars.
The number of merchants that are participating has also more than doubled, from 11,000 in 2021 to over 23,000 heartland businesses today, noted Mr Wong.
Mayor of South West District and chairwoman of the mayors’ committee Low Yen Ling said many heartland merchants have seen increased footfall and sales with the scheme. For instance, 21,000 merchants received CDC voucher transactions in 2023, up from 18,000 in 2021.
Since the original 2021 tranche, over $406 million in vouchers has been used at heartland shops and hawker stalls, noted Ms Low.
Of the $360 million in 2023 vouchers that was redeemed and spent, $179 million was used at heartland shops and hawker stalls, she added.
Of this, 59 per cent or $106 million was spent on food and beverage while 27 per cent, or $48 million, was spent on other products and services. The remaining 14 per cent or $24 million was spent in neighbourhood minimarts.
The other $181 million in vouchers was used at participating supermarkets.
“More than 86 per cent of the $360 million was spent on F&B (food and beverage), as well as groceries, daily necessities and essential items,” Ms Low said.
“This means that the 2023 CDC Vouchers Scheme achieved the intent and aim of supporting Singaporean households in defraying their household and living expenses.”
Mr Wong said that while he cannot tell what 2024 will bring, what is certain is that Singaporeans have to take changes in stride, to adapt and thrive despite new challenges and threats.
He noted that the Forward Singapore exercise has surfaced ideas to chart the country’s way ahead in a troubled world, and the Government is studying additional measures from there.
“Together, we can be confident that we will overcome every challenge, seize new opportunities, and build our shared future for a better Singapore and a better 2024,” he said.
How to claim your 2024 CDC vouchers
Similar to previous tranches, eligible households will receive a notification letter in their mailbox from Jan 3 with details on how to claim and spend the vouchers.
Only one member of each household will need to visit www.go.gov.sg/cdcv and login with his Singpass account to claim the CDC vouchers on behalf of his household. A CDC voucher link will be sent to the registered mobile phone number of the applicant, who can then share the link with other household members.
The vouchers are rolled out in digital format to allow residents greater convenience in claiming and using them. Those who have problems claiming them digitally can seek help at various community centres/clubs (CCs) and SG Digital Community Hubs.
In the first two weeks of the launch, student volunteers will provide support to digitally less savvy residents with claiming their vouchers at selected CCs.
SG Digital Office digital ambassadors at the SG Digital Community Hubs and Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors will also be deployed to provide assistance.
Several supermarkets are offering limited-time promotions: Those who use the CDC vouchers at their outlets will get additional rebates and discounts. This includes FairPrice supermarkets.
Group chief executive of FairPrice Group Vipul Chawla told The Straits Times that in 2023, the group returned about $200 million in the form of discounts, rebates and donations to the community, including through its support of the scheme.
The latest vouchers are valid till Dec 31, 2024.