SkillsFuture Credit false claims – even less people went for training?


4,400 caught submitting false SkillsFuture claims

I refer to the article “4,400 caught in January submitting false SkillsFuture claims amounting to $2.2m” (Straits Times, Feb 24).

It states that “About 4,400 people have been found to have submitted false claims for SkillsFuture credits without taking any courses, SkillsFuture Singapore said on Friday (Feb 24).

Detected using a data analytics system

With regard to “More than two-thirds of the claims were submitted around the end of January, and were detected using a data analytics system.

80 false claims detected each month?

Until this incident, the number of false claims submitted by individuals has been about 80 such claims detected each month for the last few months, it said.

“This is a serious incident of false claims involving SkillsFuture Credit, and we have taken immediate steps to recover the monies involved. We have also stepped up our checks and audits,” said chief executive Ng Cher Pong.

How many false claims not detected yet?

Enforcement actions include mystery shopping audits to address unethical and misleading marketing practices, increasing the scope and frequency of checks and audits, improving the data analytics system and making more explicit the penalties for false claims when individuals submit their claims” – how many more fraudulent claims are there, that may not have been detected yet?

$10,000 fine/1 year jail just to get $500?

In respect of “Individuals who provide false information to the agency can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed up to a year” – my friend said “I am surprised that there are so many Singaporeans who would take the risk of being fined and jailed – just to get $500, which is arguably not a lot of money.

So many cash-strapped S’poreans?

They may really be very cash-strapped or dead-broke”.

Only 4.8% used their SkillsFuture Credit?

As to “More than 126,000 Singaporeans used it in its first year” – if the number of false claims is say conservatively about 6,000 – does it mean that the percentage of Singaporeans who were eligible for SkillsFuture Credit – and used it was only about 4.8 per cent (120,000 divided by 2.5 million)?

Why so low?

Isn’t this rather low?

What are the reasons for this apparently low take-up rate?

Ratio of “people went for training” to “training places funded” decreased?

In this connection, does it also mean that the ratio of “people went for training” to “training places funded” works out to about 0.407 (380,000 – 6,000 divided by 920,000) and 0.422 (350,000 divided by 830,000) in 2016 and 2015 (or around the previous 12 months), respectively?

If so, does it mean that, arguably on a relative and proportional basis – less people actually went for training last year (or around the previous 12 months) compared to 2015?

Even worse if include new entrants to workforce & new citizens?

Also, if we include the estimated 25,000 new entrants to the workforce and estimated 20,000 new citizens (of which say an estimated 15,000 are of working age) last year – the relative statistics may be even worse.

“Lagi” worse with rising unemployment and redundancies?

Moreover, with rising unemployment and redundancies last year – more may have gone for training, which similarly may make the relative statistics even worse.

More or less S’poreans heeded “skills mastery and lifelong learning”?

So, if the above is correct – don’t you think that the statement “But even as more Singaporeans heeded the call to undergo skills mastery and lifelong learning, mindset change does not come easily” – may not seem to be right?

Shouldn’t it be “less Singaporeans” instead of “more Singaporeans”?

Similarly, for the statement “We don’t want to be blindly chasing numbers … we don’t want to just see numbers going up but (where) at the back of it, the mindsets haven’t really changed” – shouldn’t it be “numbers going down” instead of “numbers going up”?

If so, as to the statement “gives it a decent B-grade, if numbers alone told of its progress” – shouldn’t it be “regressed” instead of “progress”, especially now that so many fraudulent claims have been found?

How about taking a course in simple Mathematics?

For those of you who are reading this (including the journalists who write such stories) – perhaps you may like to use your SkillsFuture Credit to take a course in simple Mathematics, so that you may have a better understanding of the above – and figure out for yourself – whether the numbers are up or down?

Numbers down despite launch of SkillsFuture Credit?

As to “Last year was a busy one for the national drive.

There was the roll out of the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, which gives every Singaporean aged 25 and older $500 credit to pay for skills courses. It was introduced last January for about 2.5 million people” – don’t you find it rather puzzling that despite giving $500 credit to 2.5 million people – the relative statistics as described above may seem to have gotten worse?

And to top it off – now we know that many were false claims!

Leong Sze Hian

P.S. You may also like to come with your friends to attend the public forum on “Budget: Govt still not spending on CPF, HDB or healthcare” on 25 Feb 2-5 pm


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.