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Singapore, 19 July 2023 The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is firmly committed to good corporate governance and the responsible use of public funds. STB has taken steps to review and tighten our processes based on the audit observations made by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) for the Singapore Rediscovers Vouchers (SRV) scheme that was introduced in 2020.    

The scheme was launched within four months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the urgency of supporting local tourism businesses and jobs, and the complexity of designing the Government’s nationwide digital-only voucher scheme for the first time, we are heartened by AGO’s findings that STB had thought through the scheme design and put in place the necessary controls to ensure proper management.

The key observations were on inadequate controls to ensure that the SRV grants were not disbursed to ineligible persons, and only eligible merchants and products were onboarded to the scheme. While STB had implemented checks to prevent abuse and detect wrongdoing, we recognise that some of the processes could have been more stringent.

For example, AGO observed that false declarations were made by some citizens to enjoy subsidies for children and youth. STB had relied on declarations by adults as well as merchants’ verification of the redemptions. Our intent was to simplify the redemption process for the convenience of our citizens and tourism businesses and had assessed the risk of abuse to be small. On hindsight, we should have implemented additional checks to verify eligibility. STB plans to take appropriate action against the individuals who had made the ineligible redemptions.

STB also acknowledges that the processes to determine the eligibility of merchants and products could be improved. 

a)     AGO found that there were inadequate supporting documents to show that 12 merchants had met the eligibility criterion. Although these 12 merchants’ eligibility were confirmed by our officers, we acknowledge that our internal standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure proper documentation can be tightened.

b)     AGO’s test checks on the listed products of 80 merchants also found that 950 products were onboarded even though the merchants did not submit the necessary product lists to STB for eligibility checks. STB has clarified that given the volume of merchants and products under the programme, we adopted an SOP to verify product eligibility based on a sampling approach.

Going forward, STB intends to make better use of technology and digital tools when we launch new schemes, so as to more comprehensively and efficiently document evaluation findings and record the eligibility checks conducted.

STB is fully committed to the principles of good governance and accountability and will apply the lessons learnt to strengthen our processes.  

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About the Singapore Tourism Board

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the lead development agency for tourism, one of Singapore’s key economic sectors. Together with industry partners and the community, we shape a dynamic Singapore tourism landscape. We bring the Passion Made Possible brand to life by differentiating Singapore as a vibrant destination that inspires people to share and deepen their passions.

More: www.stb.gov.sg or www.visitsingapore.com | Follow us: facebook.com/STBsingapore or linkedin.com/company/singapore-tourism-board