Tuesday 14 August 2012

Govt reviewing Marriage and Parenthood package

By S Ramesh/Sharon See, Channel NewsAsia, 12 Aug 2012

The government is reviewing the Marriage and Parenthood package (2008) to encourage Singaporeans to get married earlier and have more children.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said this as he urged Singaporeans to work hand in hand to overcome two key challenges that Singapore faces - having a sustainable population and maintaining the country's economic vitality.

Mr Teo, who also oversees the country's population planning policies, said: "We intend to put out a White Paper at the end of this year so that we can bring Singaporeans together to discuss this issue, to understand what the implications are and to come together to see what are the possible ways forward which will give us a sustainable population, a cohesive population and a population that will ensure our vitality into the future."

The second challenge is the economy, said Mr Teo at the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC's National Day Dinner on Sunday.

The world economy is still weak, but with more jobs created in Singapore in the second quarter of this year, overall unemployment remains low at 2 per cent.

The government is also working to help Singaporeans stay employed and ensure that wages keep pace.

Mr Teo said about 400,000 Singaporeans benefit from the Workfare Income Supplement of up to $2,800 a year.

The scheme helps to top up the wages of low-income workers by up to 25 per cent.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) also promotes upskilling and retraining to help Singaporeans stay in or find jobs.

This year, the government introduced the GST Voucher to help the lower-income groups offset the Goods and Services Tax. The GST Voucher includes cash, utilities rebates and Medisave top-ups.

Mr Teo said that in the coming months, the government will be engaging Singaporeans in a number of major consultations. 

He said: "I encourage you to share your views so that we can build the future. What kind of Singapore do we want? What hopes you have for yourself and your children? I believe with such a conversation, we can build a closer society, focus our energies and achieve this vision which will give a better life for all of us.

"The alternative is we are a divided country, we spend all our time being envious of each other, we are unable to put our energies together, we become a divided society."

Mr Teo urged all Singaporeans to work hand in hand with determination and tenacity to create a better future.


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