Up to 400,000 lower-income households to receive vouchers to spend on local businesses

The vouchers, which come in $2 denominations, will have to be used by Dec 31, 2020. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Up to 400,000 lower-income Singaporean households will be able to collect $50 worth of vouchers in the coming months, to be spent on local businesses.

The Community Development Council (CDC) Vouchers Scheme was launched on Friday (June 12). Its purpose is to help Singaporean households with daily expenses while supporting local merchants and hawkers.

The households, identified through various government help schemes, can use the vouchers at participating shops and stalls such as hawker stalls and mom-and-pop shops.

About 2,500 merchants and hawkers have signed up so far. More are expected to come on board as awareness of the scheme is raised and the economy reopens, said Ms Low Yen Ling, chairman of the Mayors' Committee and Mayor of the South West District.

She added that the five mayors and grassroots advisers have been working with merchant and hawker associations to recruit heartland businesses virtually during the past two months, after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a $20 million grant for CDCs to support families and their needs during the first Budget in February.

Eligible households will receive notification letters in batches between June 15 and end-July. They will have to present the letter and one NRIC per household during voucher collection.

Each letter will state the date of voucher collection from designated community centres for each household. The earliest date is June 25, though the vouchers can be retrieved at any time till Dec 1.

This is to ensure safe distancing and minimise overcrowding at the collection points.

The vouchers, which come in $2 denominations, will have to be used by Dec 31 this year.

Staff from the various constituency offices or representatives from the associations will visit the merchants weekly to collect the vouchers and reimburse them with cash, said Ms Low.

The scheme was launched on Friday afternoon in a closed-door Zoom meeting attended by DPM Heng, the five mayors - Ms Low, Dr Maliki Osman, Dr Teo Ho Pin, Ms Denise Phua and Mr Desmond Choo - and the president of the Federation of Merchants' Associations, Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, who was representing the participating merchants.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said that the CDC Voucher Scheme and other local efforts are part of a larger suite of support measures to help Singaporeans.

"I am confident that with agencies such as the CDCs working closely with the community and helping the vulnerable groups, we can weather this storm together. Let us continue to stay resilient and united," said Mr Heng.

Ms Low said that the scheme is an example of the five CDCs joining forces in solidarity during challenging times to support lower-income families and boost local heartland businesses.

"This initiative will also draw the local community together as the vouchers encourage Singaporeans to buy from local businesses, hawker stalls as well as mom-and-pop shops in the heartlands and HDB estates," said Ms Low.

"As our residents patronise their neighbourhood shops and hawkers, we hope it will also build a fresh sense of solidarity and mutual support among Singaporeans," she added.

"We are all in this crisis together, from residents to shopkeepers, from families to businesses, individuals and organisations. But by joining hearts and hands, we can gain new fresh confidence to overcome the odds and emerge even stronger."

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