SINGAPORE: "Ambitious efforts to improve social housing and healthcare in Singapore were revealed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his national day rally speech on Sunday, August 19, 1965. These attempts, said Lee, are" fundamental "commitments" by the Government to Singaporeans, even if they need big expenses and many years – "different generations and many general elections" – to realize.
These come even because the pressure on the cost of living increases, driven by costs for housing, education and health care.
"Housing, education and healthcare are three areas where the government is very focused," he said. . "We will make every effort to ensure that you can afford them."
Since education, especially pre-school education, was prominently present last year in his NDR speech, Lee chose to focus on health care and housing this time. 19659002] EXTENSION CHAS, MORE POLYCLINIKA & # 39; S
Healthcare was one of the initiatives the Prime Minister revealed the expansion of the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) for all Singaporeans with chronic conditions regardless of their income.
CHAS grants cardholders the right to receive ambulatory treatment from general practitioners (GPs), and it covers Singaporeers with a medium and lower income.
Lee called the experience of People & # 39; s Party Party (PAP) MP Dr. Lily Neo, who told how the elderly who may have been delayed to the last minute to go to the doctor, come to visit her earlier because of the scheme and allow her to treat them before their condition worsens.
"CHAS has worked well", the Prime Minister said, adding that everyone appreciates a little help with regular medical bills for chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
He said that CHAS benefits will be kicked on the basis of income, and the Department of Health (MOH) will announce more details later.
He also said that the government is going to build more outpatient clinics throughout Singapore.
MOH builds and modernises outpatient clinics and medical centers across the country. sland, such as those in Punggol, Kampung Admiralty and Ang Mo Kio, and there will be such health care facilities in Sembawang, Eunos, Kallang and Bukit Panjang by 2020, he said.
Further, No Soon Central and Tampines North will also have outpatient clinics by 2023, he added.
"So we will have more affordable, accessible, high-quality primary care anywhere in Singapore," Lee said.
FIRST OF THE "MERDEKA GENERATION"
In addition to specific initiatives in the field of health care, the prime minister also wanted to recall a group of Singaporeans who have made an important contribution to the building of nations: they born in the fifties, or the "Merdeka generation", of which there are 500,000 today
Mr. Lee acknowledged that when the government introduced the Pioneer Generation package in 2014 for those born in 1940 or earlier, Singaporeans who were a little younger, just missed it. It gave those who were born between 1950 and 1959 annual Medisave top-ups of S $ 100 or S $ 200, but "a Medisave supplement is not quite the same as the Pioneer Generation package," he added
of the people in the Merdeka generation today are sixty and will have left staff or will soon retire. Mr. Lee said that this group will look at their savings and Medisave accounts from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and worry about their medical needs as they get older.
"I think we owe something to them," he said.
As such, he announced that the government will work out a Merdeka generation package that will help this group meet their medical needs. expenses. It will include similar areas to the Pioneer Generation Package, such as outpatient grants, Medisave top-ups, MediShield Life premium subsidies and long-term care payouts.
He added that the government made a "significant sum" for the package, with more details to be announced next year.
"The benefits will not be as big as for the Pioneer Generation, which had much less benefit in life," Lee said. "But the Merdeka generation package will be a way to ease their care concerns."
"And more importantly, it will show our appreciation for the Merdeka generation and their contributions."
IMPROVING EXISTING HOMES
The Prime Minister also noted that housing is another area that many Singaporeans are worried about and, unlike health care, is not a "simple matter to keep prices low because housing prices vary affect people differently ".
He explained why the government has decided to make 99-year lease contracts for apartment buildings from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), and not to release them.
"We have to be fair to future generations, HDB sells you the flat for 99 years, you are the owner and you can pass it on to one or two generations," he said. "Then the flat returns to the state, the government rebuilds the land and builds new flats for future generations.
" This is the only way to recycle the land and make sure that all our offspring are new build-to can buy -Order (BTO) flats of their own. "
He went on to unveil plans to expand the Home Improvement Program (HIP) for public housing until 1997, which means that another 230,000 flats will benefit from the scheme." The cities that would benefit include Pasir Ris , Yishun, Tampines and Jurong The original scheme covers flats built until 1986.
Lee said that HIP has been "very popular," because homeowners get maintenance solutions to problems such as crumbling concrete, ceiling leaks and damaged pipes. be upgraded because more families have air conditioners, washing machines and now personal mobility facilities.
The scheme is heavily subsidized, where the government pays up to 95 percent of the costs and residents pay as little as a few hundred dollars, he stressed, adding house prices usually goes up after the improvements have been made.
The prime minister added that flats after the HIP should remain good for another 30 or 40 years, meaning they are about 60 or 70 years old before they grow older again.
"We are determined not to let our public housing be diluted into ragged, filthy slums, which happened in many other cities," said Lee, who announced the beginning. of a second upgrade upgrade called HIP II. The first flats will be about 60 to 70 years old in 10 years, and that is when they will launch the project.
"In short, every HDB flat can expect an upgrade twice during the lease term."
This second upgrade round is a "huge financial commitment" for the government, with the first HIP costing more than S $ 4 billion. The Prime Minister said that the second round will probably cost more than the flats will be twice as old by then.
He said that HIP II is a "well-justified" cost and that the government will do so for so long the Ministry of Finance has the money.
Mr. Lee went on to address the concerns of homeowners who want to come out of their existing flats and want to tackle the selective Enbloc redevelopment scheme (SERS).
He said that SERS is a very good scheme for rejuvenating estates, but it is very limited because it focuses on selected HDB blocks or areas that have a high development value that has yet to be unlocked. HDB estimates that only about 5 percent of the flats are suitable for SERS, and although a few such projects will follow, much has already been done.
That said, he revealed that more households can benefit from this. of redevelopment before their lease contracts of 99 years have expired. This is done via a new Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) for when a flat falls at the age of 70 and older.
Residents in the district will have to vote for VERS, just like for HIP. If residents vote for it, the government will buy the flats back and residents can use the proceeds to help pay for another flat, he explained.
If they vote not to go for VERS, residents can continue to live in their flats until their rental contracts run out, he added.
He also emphasized that VERS is a long-term plan and not a plan that will start another 20 years, when the first areas that begin to reach the age limit.
"We have the time to find out how to choose the neighborhoods, how to manage the redevelopment, the specific conditions of the government's offer, and so on," Lee said. "We also need to study how we can afford VERS for the long term."
"But I think that such a scheme is necessary, and we will now plan for VERS."
AN "NATION OF BOUNDLESS POSSIBILITIES"
Mr. Lee emphasized how the government is now planting the seeds in terms of coming up with the plans, investing the resources and building the institutions, even though some of the benefits will only be noticeable later.
"Very few countries can make such long-term plans and anticipate needs and opportunities in the distant future, but in Singapore we can and will do it," he said.
"This government believes that you are obliged to look ahead, share our thoughts with you, join our ideas and work it out with you to make it happen."
He warned that the plans will not exactly unfold as predicted because no one can tell what will happen in the next half century – whether there will be war or peace, technological disruptions or whether countries can work together big and small.  He said, however, that the government knows what Singapore should strive to give itself the best chances of success: a prosperous economy and healthy public finances, political stability and excellent leadership, and a united people remain and work together to create a better Singapore. build.
"With what we have now, we can achieve so much more together," said Lee.
"A hundred years later, Singapore should not only stand out through its modern skyscrapers and world rankings, but also be a nation of boundless possibilities."