Reply to PQ on MoneySENSE
Question No. 260
Notice Paper No. 206 of 2005
For Oral Answer
Date: For Parliament Sitting on or after 17 October 2005
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Q260 - Miss Penny Low
Q260: To ask the Senior Minister (a) if he will provide a status update on the MoneySENSE programme and how many people have benefited from general half-day seminars and in an in depth manner like courses; (b) how will his Ministry rate the success of the programme; and (c) how much funds will be allocated in the next phase and what will be the areas of focus.
Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education and Deputy Chairman:
1. MoneySENSE aims to help Singaporeans equip themselves with basic money management and financial planning skills. Since its launch two years ago (in October 2003), MoneySENSE has organised more than 100 talks, seminars, courses and workshops. These activities have attracted over 12,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life. The events are generally well attended. For eg, the recent MoneySENSE talk on investment-linked insurance plans attracted more than 500 participants.
2. MoneySENSE has also published 16 consumer guides, with over one million copies printed and distributed. We have also been working with the media to disseminate financial education messages to a wider audience. To date, the local newspapers have published 85 MoneySENSE articles. MoneySENSE currently contributes fortnightly illustrations to the local newspapers to help consumers understand common financial documents, such as CPF statements and insurance policy benefit illustrations.
3. Overall, based on outreach statistics and feedback from participants, MoneySENSE is off to a good start. The strong support and commitment we have received from the various industry associations, community groups, consumer bodies, grassroots organisations and media is enabling MoneySENSE to bring financial education to a wide group of Singaporeans. But there is much work ahead.
4. Earlier this year, we conducted a national financial literacy survey to benchmark Singaporeans' financial literacy. The survey identified gaps amongst Singaporeans in saving for emergencies, and planning for retirement - only a quarter had calculated how much they would need when they retire. There was also inadequate understanding of common financial products such as life insurance and unit trusts. The survey also revealed some wide variations in levels of financial literacy among different segments of the population.
5. We are working with our MoneySENSE stakeholders to implement customised financial education programmes targeted at certain segments of the population. One of our areas of focus is low-income families. MoneySENSE and the Community Development Councils (CDCs) have jointly organised a programme, the "Talking Dollars and Sense" programme, to educate families on financial assistance schemes with basic savings and budgeting skills. The programme comprises a workshop and practical follow-up sessions where a trainer meets each family, one on one, to review their progress in managing their budgets and to help them set new targets for savings.
6. MoneySENSE has also worked with the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) and the Singapore College of Insurance (SCI) to launch a series of "Financial Planning for Families" seminars at community clubs to teach families how to plan for retirement. This series of seminars will run for five years and will reach out to many families. We will also be launching a quarterly newsletter in the four local dailies to bring useful information and tips on money matters to the general public.
7. The Government has allocated $3 million from the Financial Sector Development Fund (FSDF) to fund MoneySENSE programmes from 2003 to October next year. We will review the funding arrangement for MoneySENSE in the first half of 2006.
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