Reply to Parliamentary Question on parents opening and operating bank accounts for children with severe disabilities
QUESTION NO 445
NOTICE PAPER 69 OF 2013
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 25 February 2013
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
To ask the Prime Minister whether a directive can be issued to commercial banks to allow parents of children with severe disabilities to open a savings account without requiring their parents to engage a lawyer to produce a court order.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1 Banks are not required by law or by MAS to ask parents wanting to open savings accounts for their disabled children to produce a court order. This has to do with banks’ internal policies on opening and operating bank accounts.
2 The banks’ reasons for this practice is as follows. When a person opens a bank account, the bank has an obligation to carry out transactions for that person or his authorised representative. A person with disabilities which affect his or her mental capacity to make decisions, would be unable to operate a bank account independently. To safeguard his interests, the bank may advise his parents to apply to the Court to appoint one or both of them as their child’s deputies. An order from the Court will empower the parents to make decisions on behalf of the child about his or her affairs, including the opening of a bank account. The court order also assures the bank that it has properly discharged the instructions of persons who have legal rights to act on behalf of the child.
3 MAS appreciates that some parents may face difficulties in procuring a court order. MAS will work with relevant government bodies, the Courts and the legal and banking industry groups, to find a way to address these difficulties.