Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) In Singapore: 5 Crucial Facts

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Blog

Managing financial burdens is a struggle for many. Still, in Singapore, various solutions, including the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS), have been introduced to help individuals navigate their debts.

This article provides an in-depth overview of debt repayment schemes, also referred to as a debt repayment plan, particularly focusing on the debt repayment scheme in Singapore. We will unravel the complexities of these schemes, from consolidation plans to the impact on your credit score, so you can stay on top of your financial affairs.

1. Understanding Debt Repayment Schemes

Debt Consolidation Plan (DCP)

A Debt Consolidation Plan, commonly called DCP, is a debt refinancing programme offered by banks in Singapore. The scheme allows individuals to consolidate their unsecured debts across various financial institutions into a single repayment plan. The main aim of a DCP is to aid individuals in handling their debts more effectively.

This is particularly beneficial for those with multiple debts who find it challenging to manage different repayment plans. Additionally, it reduces the risk of missing any repayments, which can lead to higher fees and damage to credit scores.

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

The Debt Management Plan(DMP), or Programme, is another solution for individuals in Singapore struggling with unsecured debts. It is a personalised repayment plan offered by Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS), a non-profit organisation providing free credit counselling for individuals.

The DMP aims to help individuals repay their unsecured debts by offering a structured repayment plan tailored to their circumstances. This means the plan considers an individual’s income, living expenses, and other financial obligations, ensuring the repayment plan is affordable and sustainable.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a formal debt solution which allows an individual to negotiate with their creditors to repay a portion of their debts over a specified period. It’s a legal process under the Singapore Bankruptcy Act, providing an alternative to bankruptcy for individuals facing insurmountable debt.

The IVA proposal, prepared with the assistance of an insolvency practitioner, sets out the repayment terms, the repayment period, the amount to which debts filed be repaid, and how the repayment will be funded. The proposal needs approval by a majority of the creditors to be legally binding on all involved parties.

2. Benefits and Advantages Of Debt Repayment Schemes

Streamlined Repayment Process

One of the major advantages of debt repayment schemes is the streamlined repayment process. These schemes consolidate various debt repayments into a single, more manageable payment.

This simplified process can significantly reduce the stress and confusion often associated with managing multiple debts from different creditors. It also reduces the chances of missing a payment, leading to late fees and negatively impacting your credit rating.

Lower Interest Rates And Fees

Consolidating your debts under a single scheme can often lower interest rates and fees. This is because, under these schemes, you negotiate new terms with your creditors or a new loan with a lower interest rate to pay off your existing debts. This, in turn, can reduce your overall debt load over time and make your monthly repayments more affordable.

Structured Repayment Plans

Debt Repayment Schemes such as the Debt Consolidation Plan or the Individual Voluntary Arrangement provide structured repayment plans tailored to the debtor’s financial situation.

These customised plans ensure that the monthly repayment amount is affordable and sustainable. This means that you’ll have a clear roadmap to becoming debt-free and less likely to default on your repayments, which could further exacerbate your financial situation.

3. Application Process And Considerations

Assessing Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for debt repayment schemes in Singapore vary depending on the scheme. For instance, the Debt Consolidation Plan is only available to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with unsecured debts exceeding twelve times their monthly income.

On the other hand, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement can be considered if you owe less than $100,000 in unsecured debts, among other criteria.

Engaging With Credit Counselling Agencies

When considering a debt repayment scheme, engaging with a credit counselling agency is important. These agencies provide various services to help individuals understand their financial situation better and manage their debts more effectively. Services offered by these agencies include:

  • Providing advice on managing debts.
  • Developing a budget plan.
  • Guidance on the application process for a debt repayment scheme.

Implications And Impact On Credit Score

It’s essential to consider the potential implications of enrolling in a Debt Repayment Scheme, particularly the impact on your credit score. While a Debt Repayment Scheme can help you manage your debts, it is noted on your credit report and can lower your credit score initially.

However, consistently making repayments under the scheme can help improve your credit score over time, demonstrating your commitment to resolving your financial issues. This can be beneficial in the long run, especially if you need to borrow money or get credit in the future.

4. Considerations For Sustainable Financial Management

Budgeting And Expense Control

Dealing with debts is about resolving current financial issues and avoiding potential ones in the future. Effective budgeting and expense control is critical to managing your debts and preventing further financial distress.

By understanding where your money goes, you can make better decisions on your spending, save more, and avoid falling into the debt trap again.

Financial Education And Planning

Financial education is critical for understanding how to manage your finances effectively. It equips individuals with the knowledge to understand complex financial products and services, avoid debt traps, and make sound financial decisions.

On the other hand, regular financial planning can help you stay on top of your debts and plan for your financial future.

5. Bankruptcy And Applying For A Debt Repayment Scheme In Singapore

Typically, the DRS is a pre-bankruptcy procedure that an individual can look into. In Singapore, filing for bankruptcy is generally seen as a last resort for individuals unable to repay their debts. However, the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) provides an alternative that enables debtors to avoid bankruptcy while fulfilling their debt obligations over a manageable period.

However, this scheme isn’t automatically implemented. To be considered, debtors must apply during the bankruptcy application proceedings. If the Official Assignee deems the debtor suitable, they will administer the DRS instead of declaring the debtor bankrupt.

Under the DRS, a repayment plan is established, outlining a suitable repayment schedule. It should be noted that if declared bankrupt, the institution might recover less than the original total debt.

This plan considers the debtor’s income, living expenses, and other financial commitments, allowing them to manage repayments without severely compromising their standard of living.

Adherence to the repayment plan is crucial. Failure to meet the terms of the DRS may result in the termination of the scheme, exposing the debtor to the possibility of bankruptcy proceedings. Conversely, successful completion of the DRS allows individuals to settle their debts and avoid the social and legal implications involved in this status.

Conclusion On Debt Repayment Scheme In Singapore

Addressing overwhelming debt can be challenging. This is when most people will go the easy route and may be tempted to look for loan sharks with terms that are too good to be true, as an attempt to borrow money and pay off your debts. Stop! That’s not the way.

With tools like the Debt Repayment Scheme, Singapore has made the process of managing your financial affairs easier. Offering benefits such as lower interest rates, fee waivers, and structured repayment plans, DRS provides a lifeline for individuals to regain control of their financial situation.

However, this is just part of the journey towards financial stability. As you navigate through the complexities of DRS, remember that sustainable financial management practices are key to long-term financial health. If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation, don’t hesitate to seek help. Our team of professionals is available to guide you through your options and assist in your journey towards a debt-free future.

Reach out to our bankruptcy lawyers in Singapore to get 30-minutes’ worth of free legal advice. We’ll advise you on the next steps to take. There is no obligation to continue if you do not feel we’re right team to handle your case. We only want you to get clarity at least in the initial stages.

Frequently Asked Questions About Debt Repayment Scheme In Singapore

Is There A Minimum Or Maximum Debt Limit To Qualify For A Debt Repayment Scheme In Singapore?

To be eligible for a Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) in Singapore, your unsecured debts must be over SGD 15,000 but not exceed a total outstanding unsecured debt of SGD 150,000.

What Happens If I Fail To Meet The Repayment Obligations Under The Debt Repayment Scheme?

If you fail to meet the repayment obligations under the DRS, the Official Assignee may issue a certificate of failure, which can lead to bankruptcy proceedings.

Can I Apply For A Debt Repayment Scheme If I’m Unemployed?

While the DRS is not specifically for the employed, you must have a stable income source to fulfil the repayment obligations under the scheme.

Will My Creditors Stop Charging Interest Once I Enrol In A Debt Repayment Scheme?

This depends on the specific terms of your DRS. In some cases, interest may continue to accrue but at a reduced rate.

Can I Still Use My Credit Cards Under A Debt Repayment Scheme?

Usually, when you enter a Debt Repayment Scheme, you must close all your unsecured credit facilities, including credit cards.

How Long Does The Debt Repayment Scheme Process Typically Take?

The length of a DRS can vary significantly based on your specific circumstances, including the amount of debt and repayment capacity. Typically, it may last for a fixed period of 3 to 5 years.

What Is The Role Of The Official Assignee In The Debt Repayment Scheme?

The Official Assignee (OA) administers the DRS. The OA will assess your proposal, negotiate with creditors, and monitor your compliance with the DRS.

Can Creditors Initiate Fresh Bankruptcy Proceedings Against Me If I Am On A Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) In Singapore?

While you are under a Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore, creditors cannot initiate fresh bankruptcy proceedings against you. The DRS is designed to protect debtors from bankruptcy, giving them a chance to repay their debts over a reasonable period. It’s crucial, however, to consistently meet your repayment obligations under the scheme, as failure to do so may result in the termination of your DRS, leaving you vulnerable to bankruptcy proceedings.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.