Singapore — Why is it that online applications for the Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG) can be submitted only between 9 am and 6 pm? This was the questioned posed by Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam to Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Dec 7), Mr Giam (Aljunied GRC) said that he had asked if the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) would consider allowing online applications 24 hours a day, except for periodic maintenance windows.

Mr Giam noted that “most other public-facing IT systems operate for much longer hours, and many are 24/7”.

He added that limiting the CSG portal’s operating hours means that a group of residents will fall through the cracks, especially those who are not IT-savvy, “with their applications during Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS), as these take place after 7.30pm”.

Mr Giam added that, while the MPS volunteers are able to arrange separate times to assist those who are not IT savvy, “there could also be many other residents who have to work during the day and are only available to submit their applications after office hours”.

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Mr Giam said that Mr Masagos replied that MSF had considered longer operating hours but decided against it so as to provide more maintenance hours each day.

The latter added that the timings were decided “taking into account the need to allow sufficient time each day to closely monitor system performance, perform system maintenance and updates, and troubleshoot problems in a timely fashion to minimise any unplanned downtime and to ensure that applicants would receive a sustainable and reliable level of service”.

Mr Masagos also noted that out of that 180,000 CSG applications, 96 per cent were submitted online.

The CSG provides assistance and job support to Singaporean and Permanent Resident employees who have lost their jobs, been involuntarily placed on no-pay leave, or experienced significant loss of salary due to the economic impact of Covid-19. /TISG