SINGAPORE - Almost 600,000 people have applied for the Covid-19 Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), which gives a one-time $500 cash grant to lower- and middle-income Singapore residents who have lost their jobs or incomes because of the coronavirus crisis.
Of these applicants, close to 4,000 have since returned the money they received.
While he did not say why they returned the cash grants, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan said his ministry is working closely with the police to investigate fraudulent claims.
He was replying to Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) in Parliament on Monday (May 4).
As of April 30, when applications for the grant closed, the ministry received 594,206 applications.
The relief fund is for Singapore residents who lost their jobs or at least 30 per cent of their personal income owing to Covid-19, are not on ComCare aid and have a monthly per capita income of $3,100 or less, or gross monthly household income of up to $10,000.
It was set up to provide timely financial aid to such residents, said Mr Tan.
The grant is for the month of April, before the start of other Covid-19 assistance schemes, including the Covid-19 Support Grant and Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs).
As of April 30, 3,951 individuals have returned their payouts, he added.
Reiterating warnings by the authorities last month, Mr Tan said abuse of the fund is a cheating offence, that carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
"Where individuals returned their cheques or payouts, this will be a mitigating factor in our assessment of fraudulent claims," he added.
Individuals who want to return their cheques or payouts should do so by end-May.