1,000 Self-Employed People Asked to Return SIRS Payout As They Declared Their Income Wrongly

The last year was one of struggle for us all, as the pandemic hit hard, and income was a prominent issue for most Singaporeans.

Freelancers were amongst those that were hit the hardest as they did not have a stable flow of income. But fortunately, the government was there to assist.

Reader: Wah, this one confirm take money from government one.

SIRS Scheme

In case you’ve forgotten, the SIRS (Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme) was a financial assistance grant of up to S$9,000 paid out to freelancers to help them tide over the economic crisis.

As long as they had a net trade income of less than S$100,000 a year, lived in a property with an annual value lower than S$21,000, and owned less than 2 properties, they would receive a payout of S$1,000 monthly for 9 months.

All was good, right?

Well, apparently not.

Over 1,000 erroneous payouts

Declared by Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo in Parliament on Tuesday, around 1,000 self-employed individuals have been asked to refund their SIRS payouts due to erroneous declarations of income and property information.

You might be thinking, how did this happen? Aren’t the criteria supposed to be strict?

This was the question MP Jamus Lim threw at her during the Parliament session as well.

It turns out that due to the numerous amount of grants they had to disburse within a limited timeline, they took these declarations “in good faith” at that point in time.

However, after careful auditing, roughly 0.5% of these declarations turned out to be “erroneous”.

Honest Mistake?

However, Josephine Teo believes that “they may have been mistaken in their own understanding of their circumstances” and that “it is sometimes possible that person did not quite know what he was earning.”

She also stated that the government was aware of scams that were inviting ineligible individuals to apply intentionally, and that they were referred to the police.

She was unable to comment on how many of such cases there were due to the ongoing investigations, but I want to believe that it is an extreme minority.

At the end of the day, if we deprive the government of needed funds, it’s still us who suffer lah.

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