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Second Reading Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, on the Pioneer Generation Fund Bill 2014

03 Nov 2014
Date: 03 November 2014
Venue: Parliament
Speaker: Mrs Josephine Teo
Madam Speaker, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Many Pioneers are Benefiting from Package

2. Madam Speaker, since the Government first announced the Pioneer Generation Package, many Pioneers have started to enjoy the healthcare benefits provided to them.

3. In July this year, 440,000 Pioneers received their Medisave top-ups which can be used to meet medical needs or medical insurance expenses. For many Pioneers, these top-ups have come on top of the annual GST Voucher – Medisave top-ups paid to seniors above the age of 65.

4. In September alone, which is the first month since Pioneers received their PG cards, there have been about 317,000 Pioneer visits to Specialist Outpatient Clinics, Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) clinics and polyclinics which qualified for special subsidies on consultation and treatment. The Pioneers’ bills at the subsidised Specialist Outpatient Clinics and polyclinics will be reduced even further when subsidies for their medication come into effect in January next year.

5. We also introduced the Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme (PioneerDAS) where eligible Pioneers can receive monthly cash supplements. As of end-October 2014, about 14,000 Pioneers are benefitting from PioneerDAS.

6. Next year, all Pioneers will also receive additional subsidies to help pay for their Medishield Life premiums when the programme comes into effect. This will ensure that all Pioneers get to enjoy the enhanced benefits of Medishield Life, including the many Pioneers today who are not insured under Medishield[1].

7. The Pioneer Generation Package will provide these healthcare benefits to Pioneers for the rest of their lives. This support is on top of the substantial healthcare benefits that the Government already provides for all Singaporeans and which have been continuously enhanced. To ensure that funding for the Package is available beyond the current term of Government, and regardless of the state of the economy, the Government will set up a Pioneer Generation Fund.

Good Awareness of Pioneer Generation Package

8. Madam Speaker, although the Pioneer Generation Package was only introduced earlier this year, awareness levels are relatively high. A survey by the Ministry of Communications and Information showed that about eight in 10 Pioneers are aware of the Pioneer Generation Package. This is a significant improvement from just six months ago.

9. Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor and I chair a Taskforce comprising members from the public and private sectors to reach out to Pioneers. Since its formation in April 2014, the Taskforce has rolled out various communications and outreach efforts on the Pioneer Generation Package, such as through TV interstitials, radio segments and print advertorials and even at getai, in both the official languages and dialects. This complements the letters and welcome packs mailed to Pioneers.

10. The People’s Association and its Grassroots Organisations have held more than 800 dialogues and briefing sessions on the Pioneer Generation Package. Many community organisations such as Mendaki and CDAC have also stepped forward to spread awareness about the Pioneer Generation Package.

Improve Understanding through Personalised Outreach

11. We are mindful, however, that even with these outreach efforts, it can be challenging for Pioneers and their caregivers to fully understand the Pioneer Generation benefits they stand to enjoy. Many Pioneers are also not familiar with online resources or prefer face-to-face explanations which also allow them to seek clarifications.

12. We have therefore set up a Pioneer Generation Office to gather and train a group of volunteers called Pioneer Generation Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will visit the homes of our Pioneers to explain the Package to them and answer their queries. The Pioneer Generation Ambassadors’ engagement is intended to be sustained and ongoing so that the Pioneers will always have a contact point whom they can approach if they have questions about the Pioneer Generation Package. The programme has just started at Nee Soon, Tampines and East Coast, and will be introduced progressively to other constituencies.

13. Let me now turn to the Bill itself, which provides for the establishment of the Pioneer Generation Fund and its administration. As stated in Budget 2014, the Government will set aside $8 billion to meet the full cost of the Package. With accumulated interest over time, we estimate this amount to be sufficient to meet the projected cost of the Package, which is slightly over $9 billion.

Main Provisions in the Bill

14. Madam Speaker, I shall now highlight the main features of the Bill.

15. Part II of the Bill sets out the purposes for which moneys in the Pioneer Generation Fund may be used. It places the general responsibility for the management and administration of the Fund on the Minister for Finance, and provides for the presentation of annual financial statements and Auditor’s report to Parliament.

16. Part III of the Bill defines the eligibility criteria for an individual to be considered a Pioneer and outlines the benefits which Pioneers stand to receive as part of the Pioneer Generation Package. The benefits include (i) annual top-ups to the CPF Medisave Account; (ii) MediShield Life premium subsidies; (iii) extra subsidies for outpatient treatment, and (iv) cash grants under the Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme.

17. Part III also provides for the powers of the Appeals Panel and how appeals may be made. The Panel may determine a citizen of Singapore to be a Pioneer provided that the person is born on or before 31 December 1949. As stated in Parliament on 8 September 2014, it was recognised after extensive deliberation that for any age criterion, there will be those who marginally fall short of the criterion. The Panel thus decided that it was not feasible or fair to allow age-related appeals without extending the new age criterion to all Singaporeans. This is why the Bill provided that the Appeals Panel will only be looking at citizenship-related appeals.

18. Parts IV and V of the Bill contain general provisions, including the power to make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of the Pioneer Generation Fund Bill, and the proper conduct of officers and entities exercising functions under the Bill. Any decisions of the Appeals Panel made prior to the passing of the Bill are also taken as valid, so that the Panel could grant Pioneer status to those who have successfully appealed earlier.


19. Madam, the purpose of the Pioneer Generation Package is to recognise our Pioneers’ contributions in developing Singapore. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, it is "a special package for a special generation", who have built up Singapore to what it is today. The Package reduces the medical expenses of Pioneers, enables them to save more for their other needs, and thus helps their family members as well.

20. Madam Speaker, I beg to move.



[1] As at Aug 2014, an estimated 130,000 Pioneers are not insured under MediShield.