SINGAPORE - The Education Ministry is taking false SkillsFuture Credit claims very seriously, and would take legal action against those who do not return the money.
Said Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling on Thursday (March 9): "We will leave no stone unturned as we take considered measures to review all processes to ensure a very robust system to deter abuses and also making of false claims."
Recently, about 4,400 people were found to have claimed about $2.2 million without attending the course they named.
Statutory board SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), which comes under her ministry, issued letters in February and March to those involved to demand the money be returned within 30 days.
As some have until April to comply, it is too early to look at the amount recovered, Ms Low said.
"SSG is tracking the recovery of monies closely, and will not hesitate to take necessary actions, including legal measures, against those who fail to return the monies," she said, in her reply to Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).
The SkillsFuture Credit scheme gives Singaporeans aged 25 and older $500 in credits to pay for training courses. Either individuals or training providers can make the claim for the training fees from the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency.
All the 4,400 individuals named the same course when they made their false claims. Ms Low said investigations showed they did not conspire with the training provider.
Under the law, people who give false information to SSG can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or given both punishments.
To prevent further abuse, SSG is conducting more checks and audits on training providers and claims by individuals, she said. Those being audited have to submit documents such as attendance lists, course enrolment or proof of payment.
A committee is reviewing how training-related claims and disbursements are processed.
While the SSG strengthens its enforcement, it will also ensure the system continues to be user-friendly as most "are responsible users of the SkillsFuture system", said Ms Low.