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Government Doubles Budget To Provide More Support

21 Aug 2008

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, Minister-In-Charge of Population Issues and Chairman of the National Population Committee (NPC), announced the details of the enhanced 2008 Marriage and Parenthood (M&P) Package today.

2. According to Mr Wong, "The enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package seeks to foster an overall pro-family environment in Singapore through a broader range of measures that offers greater support in both financial and non-financial areas. The revised package will also extend the relevant benefits to beyond the fourth child. The budget for the enhanced Package is expected to increase to $1.6 billion when fully implemented. This is double that of the current M&P package of $800 million."

3. Emphasising the importance of raising the total fertility rate, Mr Wong said,"We must treat the problem of low fertility seriously, and try to raise our total fertility rate. Although getting married and having children is a personal choice, the Government is committed to fostering an overall family-friendly environment so that Singaporeans can have more support in getting married and having and raising children. We are also mindful that for all that we do, Singaporeans must desire to get married and have children in the first place. Societal attitude towards this needs to change, and we hope to facilitate the change with the enhanced Package."


4. The existing tax benefits will be substantially enhanced to provide greater financial support to parents in raising children.

a) Qualifying Child Relief/Handicapped Child Relief (QCR/HCR): For parents with qualifying children (existing or newborn), the QCR will increase from $2000 to $4,000 per child, and the HCR from $3,500 to $5,500 per child.

b) Working Mother's Child Relief (WMCR): Working mothers with qualifying Singaporean children (existing or newborn) will enjoy higher WMCR.Currently, the WMCR for the first, second, third and fourth child are 5%,15%, 20% and 25% of the mother's earned income respectively. The WMCR will now be 15% and 20% of the mother's earned income for the first and second child respectively, and 25% per child for the third and subsequent child. The WMCR will be subject to an overall cap of 100% of the mother's earned income for all her qualifying children.

c) Combined QCR/HCR and WMCR: The total amount of QCR/HCR and WMCR claimable will be capped at $50,000 per child, twice the current cap of $25,000. Parents will be able to claim the enhanced QCR/HCR and WMCR from Year of Assessment 2009.

d) Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR): Currently, PTR is only available for the second to fourth qualifying Singaporean child in a family. Going forward, PTR will be extended to the first child and beyond the fourth child. The PTR will be $5,000 for the first child, $10,000 for the second, and $20,000 for each subsequent child. Both the father and the mother may use the PTR to offset their income tax payable. Parents of children born or legally adopted on or after 1 Jan 2008 will be able to claim the enhanced PTR from Year of Assessment 2009.


5. Both elements of the Baby Bonus, i.e. cash gift and dollar-for-dollar government matching contribution for the Children Development Account (CDA), will be enhanced. With the enhancements, the Baby Bonus will be up to $10,000 for each of the first two children and up to $18,000 for each subsequent child. The enhanced Baby Bonus applies to Singaporean babies born on or after 1 Jan 2009.

a) Cash gift: The cash gift for the first and second child will be raised from $3,000 to $4,000. The cash gift for the third and fourth child remains at the current level of $6,000.

b) CDA: The government matching contribution will be extended to the first child at up to $6,000. The matching contribution for the CDA for the second,third and fourth child will remain at the current levels. For the fifth child and beyond, a dollar-for-dollar matching for the CDA of up to $18,000 per child will be introduced.


6. The quality, affordability and accessibility of centre-based care will be enhanced to provide more viable childcare options for working parents.

a) Quality: The quality of childcare services will be raised through higher educational and qualification requirements for pre-school teachers by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, including providing scholarships and bursaries for the professional upgrading of deserving teachers in childcare centres. Childcare centres will also adopt an integrated curriculum framework and introduce a teacher-child ratio to ensure that there are adequate trained teachers in childcare centres. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will provide recurrent grants for eligible not-for-profit childcare centre operators to set the benchmark for quality and affordability. The total recurrent grant to be provided is expected to reach up to $21 million per year in five years' time.

b) Affordability: From 1 Jan 2009, the subsidy for working mothers sending their Singaporean children to centre-based childcare will increase from $150 to a maximum of $300 per month per child and the subsidy for centre-basedinfant care will increase from $400 to a maximum of $600 per month per child.

c) Accessibility: The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will also facilitate the development of 200 new childcare centres over the next five years to increase the number of childcare places.


7. In order to further improve teacher quality and enhance teacher-pupil interactions in kindergartens, the Ministry of Education will increase recurrent funding for eligible kindergarten operators. The total recurrent grant to be provided is expected to reach up to $62.5 million per year in five years' time,compared to the current $17 million a year. The additional grant will allow the operators to recruit better qualified teachers and principals, engage more teachers to improve teacher-pupil interactions and provide more support to children who are weak in English. The Ministry of Education will also provide bursaries and scholarships for existing kindergarten teachers to upgrade their professional qualifications in approved institutions.


8. Leave measures for working fathers and mothers will be enhanced to give parents more time to spend with their children.

a) Extended government-paid maternity leave: Maternity leave will be extended f

11. The Social Development Unit (SDU), which currently caters to graduate singles, and the Social Development Service (SdS), which currently caters to non-graduate singles, will be merged to deliver enhanced dating and matchmaking services for all si