Friday, August 2, 2013

MINDEF mulls CPF contributions for NSmen - Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: The Defence Ministry is exploring the possibility of making Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions when workers are called up for National Service.

Currently, employers bear this cost when staff have to attend In-Camp Trainings.

The possible move was raised in response to employers' suggestions gathered at a forum on Friday.

National Service poses challenges to companies' operations when staff temporarily stop work to attend to the call of duty.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Chan Chun Sing acknowledged this in a dialogue with employers. He said ways are being considered to better support firms and National Servicemen (NSmen).

One possibility is the government covering CPF contributions for NSmen for the period when they attend In-Camp Trainings.

If the move gets a green light, it basically means that employers will get some help in terms of lowering costs when their employees are called up for National Service.

Gary Haris, a senior business development manager at KH Security Agency, believes employers will embrace and support the idea.

Mr Chan said: "No matter what we pay, I must say that it's a token of our appreciation. It's a recognition (for our NSmen) but we never try to monetise the contributions by our NSmen because once we do that, it's very difficult."

On the issue of companies showing strong support for National Service, Mr Chan hopes it will become the norm rather than exception.

He said the Defence Ministry can consider ways to give feedback to employers about the performance of their staff during In-Camp Trainings so companies know what is going on during their National Service stints.

Giving out awards to employers and civil resource owners for their support in protecting Singapore, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also highlighted the importance of communications in crises.

He said new threats come in the form of DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) which surface on the Internet.

Dr Ng said: "We have to learn how to respond to DRUMS, both as a government and the people. I think the authorities must have a quick response plan but at the same time the people themselves must be more discerning about the information they read on the Internet."

Dr Ng said there is always room for improvement but overall, Singapore's efforts in Total Defence are bearing fruit.
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