Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the Launch of CDC Vouchers Scheme 2023 on 3 January 2023.
Mayors and Parliamentary Colleagues
Partners from our participating merchants, hawkers and supermarkets
Community Partners, Residents, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning, Selamat Pagi, Vanakkam, 大家早上好, and a very Happy New Year to all of you. I am so glad that we are able to kick off the new year, this is the first working day of the year, with the launch of our 2023 CDC Vouchers.
When we first launched the CDC Vouchers, this was back in Dec 2021, we wanted to support our heartland merchants and hawkers who were badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The vouchers were also a way to express the Government’s appreciation for everyone’s solidarity during this period – how we rallied together to fight the pandemic.
This was our first time implementing a nation-wide digital voucher. We were not sure initially how it would be received, especially amongst our seniors, our heartland our merchants and hawkers.
Fortunately, through the strong support of our Mayors, the CDCs, PA, Merchant and Hawker Associations, and our many community partners, we were able to work through all the implementation details, and we put in place something that was, I believe, convenient and very easy-to-use.
Because of all these efforts, in a short span of one year, the digital voucher has become widely accepted by both residents and businesses. And the results speak for themselves: we’ve had 2 tranches of CDC vouchers so far, one in Dec 2021, another one in May 2022, each one $100. As of 31 Dec last year, almost all Singaporean households have claimed both tranches of CDC Vouchers. I am not sure why the remaining ones have not claimed, maybe they do not need it, but I think it is a good sign that almost everyone has claimed. Through these vouchers, Singaporeans have collectively spent about $228 million at our heartland shops and hawkers, or around 96% of the total CDC vouchers claimed, and I am sure that has provided much needed support, both for our Singaporean households as well as our heartland merchants and hawkers, during this difficult period.
I am also very glad that a sizable number of households, about 1,400, have generously donated their vouchers to charity. Even though the vouchers have now expired, the CDC Vouchers website will continue to accept donations of vouchers until the end of this month. So if you have claimed the vouchers, but have not fully utilised them, please consider donating the vouchers for a good cause.
We’ve achieved these good results because of the hard work of all of you here today. So many people, as Mayor Low just mentioned, worked hard, to design the vouchers, to engage and reach out to seniors, and to bring onboard our heartland merchants and hawkers – more than 20,000 of them! So let me say a big thank you to all of you for your efforts and hard work. Thank you very much.
Today, I am very glad that I am able to launch the third tranche of CDC vouchers. Every Singaporean household will receive $300 worth of CDC Vouchers. You can claim the vouchers digitally in the same way as before: go to the CDC voucher website (go.gov.sg/cdcv) and log in with your Singpass. I am sure by now, all of you are familiar with this. But if you have difficulties, if you need help, like with the previous rounds, you can go to the nearby Community Centres and Clubs for help.
One big difference in this third tranche of vouchers is that it can be used at more places. Over the course of the last year, we have received feedback from many Singaporeans for flexibility to use the vouchers at supermarkets. At the same time, we’ve heard concerns from many of our participating heartland shop-owners and hawkers. As I mentioned earlier, we had originally conceived of the CDC vouchers to help them. We persuaded them to come on board the scheme over the course of the year, and many of them responded. But many of their businesses have still not yet fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic. And therefore they were understandably concerned about the potential impact if the vouchers were to be fully extended for wider usage in supermarkets.
After considering this feedback from both sides very carefully, MOF decided to split the vouchers into two parts. The $300 is split into two. The $150, half of the vouchers, will continue to be set aside for participating heartland merchants and hawkers. So please continue to support our heartland shops and hawkers.
The other $150 will be set aside for participating supermarkets. They will carry a different colour, so when you redeem your vouchers you will see that there are 2 different colours. First $150 are the usual colour that you are familiar with. The second $150 will have a different colour, it is a yellow decal or logo, so you won’t mix them up with the ones for heartland merchants and hawkers. I am also glad, as Mayor Low announced, we already have 5 supermarket chains onboard, namely NTUC Fairprice, Sheng Siong, Prime, Hao Mart and U Star, so you have many supermarket options to choose from.
I hope all of you will enjoy the added convenience of this set of vouchers this year. You can make use of the vouchers throughout the entire year. You have the whole year to use the vouchers as they expire on 31 Dec 2023; so do remember to use your vouchers before then and encourage your family and neighbours to do the same.
The vouchers are part of a comprehensive package of measures from the Government to help Singaporeans cushion the effects of higher prices and the recent GST rate increase. On top of the vouchers, we are providing assistance to Singaporeans in many different ways. We provided adult Singaporeans with up to $700 in cash last month.
Later this month we will be giving out the next round of U-save rebates to help households offset their utility bills. In fact, for the whole of FY2022, we have given HDB households double their regular U-Save rebates. That means for those living in 3R HDB flats, they would have gotten about 6 months’ worth of utility bills rebates – 6 months out of 1 year rebated by the Government. For those living in 4R flats, you will get about 4 months’ worth of rebates. That is for FY2022. Next month, there will be also cash payouts and MediSave top-ups for eligible seniors and children. So all of these are the measures and help that we have given out in FY2022.
The MOF team is now working on Budget FY2023. The Budget would be announced on 14th of February. It will be my Valentines Day present to all of you. We recognise the concerns that many people have about cost of living issues. Hence looking at additional measures in the budget to support Singaporeans over the coming year, especially those in the more vulnerable and lower-income groups. Assure everyone that the Government will always be here for you, to help you cope with rising prices and inflation.
As we look ahead to the new year, we have to be prepared for continued uncertainties and challenges. There is a continued war in Ukraine, it started almost a year ago, and looking ahead, it does not appear that it is going to end anytime soon. There will be possible disruptions in food and energy supplies in the year ahead. We face a weaker global economy, and there are continued geopolitical tensions, especially between US and China.
Furthermore, the pandemic is not yet over. We can see now a new wave that is taking place in China. We’re monitoring the impact closely, and what might impact us in particular, and we stand ready to take further actions if need be. But by now we have achieved a relatively high immunity in our population in Singapore. We achieved this high level of immunity through a combination of natural infection, in fact, I think if I ask many of you to raise your hands, a lot of you would have gotten Covid by now, I suspect, or through vaccinations. Whether you have or have not gotten Covid, the vast majority of you would have gotten vaccinations, at least three shots, if not four shots. So, we have a high level of local immunity. If our local infection situation remains stable, I am hopeful that we will be able to put Covid-19 behind us. We can put it in the rear-view mirror sometime later this year.
At the start of every year, we usually extend our wishes to one another for the year to go well – for life to be effortless, and smooth-sailing throughout the year. It is always very good to be optimistic, but reality tends to turn out differently. We must expect that there will be ups and downs in the year. There will be unexpected curveballs and surprises, that’s just how life is.
But it is in times of adversity that we find strength. It is in challenges that we find opportunities. It is in our darkest moments that we find new resolve to push the limits. It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that matters. That’s what we have been through these past 3 years – journeying together through the ups and downs of the pandemic, responding with grit, resilience and perseverance, and ultimately, emerging stronger and more united as a nation.
So let’s draw comfort and strength from this experience. And as we enter the new year, let’s continue to keep the faith with each other, and work together for a better future and a better Singapore.
Thank you very much and let me continue with a few words in Mandarin after this.
目前，政府一共发放了两轮的邻里购物券 — 2021年给了100元，去年5月又给了100元。这计划很受欢迎，很多居民经常问: 这个购物券已经用完了，政府什么时候会再发放额外的购物券。
那些需要帮助的居民也不用担心，你们可以到附近的联络所，那里会有工作人员协助你们。这次的购物券有个和之前不一样的地方 — 那就是，可以在更多的商店使用。
我们把购物券分成两份：其中的150元可以照旧在邻里商店和小贩摊位使用。所以希望大家继续支持我们的邻里商家和小贩。另外的150元则可以在超级市场使用 — 这些购物券会有个黄色的标志，这样居民在使用的时候就能容易分辨。
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