The prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, outlined plans to boost support for health care and social housing, which he said to be "big expenses & # 39; need, putting the city state under pressure to find new sources of financing for its growing social spending.
Lee's initiatives – described in detail in his annual National Rally speech on Sunday – are intended to provide years of financial security for the Singaporean population and to address the local population's concerns about the rising cost of living. The plans come at a time when governments around the world struggle with the challenge to lose voter support over the rising income inequality.
"These are my government's fundamental obligations to you," he said. "These are ambitious efforts and will require large expenditures, lasting more than 50 years and longer, several generations and many general elections."
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While the economy is doing well, unemployment is relatively low and wages have risen, many Singaporeans still find that their income is not enough to absorb higher costs, Lee said. He mentioned several reasons for this, including young families who spend on housing and pre-school education, medical costs for the elderly, lifestyle costs, such as travel and food, and inflation.
Here are some details of the older care and care plans that Lee explained in his speech:
Financial support for long-term care will be extended by renewing the current ElderShield program in the CareShield Life in 2020, to cover all Singaporeans born in 1980 or later and to increase payouts. The government will help pay for medical costs, in addition to other initiatives, for the generation after independence, most of whom are in their 60s.
The ElderShield program in Singapore already offers a payment of $ 400 per month, for up to six years, to participants with severe disabilities. The program defines "severe disability" as a limitation that prevents a person from carrying out four daily activities, such as eating, dressing or bathing.
CareShield Life must make payments of at least $ 600 per month as long as an older person has a serious disability. Registration is automatic for people born in 2020 or later. People born in 1979 or earlier can only participate in the program if they have not yet been seriously disabled. People born between 1970 and 1979 who have ElderShield coverage and are not severely disabled are automatically enrolled in the new program.
A description of the ElderShield program is available here.
A description of the CareShield Life program is available here.
Singapore already offers $ 200 a year in caregivers' grants and offers $ 120 a month for low-income families and an average income that foreign domestic workers hire to take care of seriously disabled people at home, according to an explanation from the Singapore government about the country. programs for long-term care.
Community health assistance will be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic diseases regardless of income and more outpatient clinics will be built in Singapore to improve access.
Lee said that Singapore has a "flourishing economy and healthy public finances." to finance the initiatives, ranging from extending health insurance to renovating social housing.
The plans may also require higher taxes, a broader tax base or both, said Francis Tan, an economist at United Overseas Bank Ltd. in Singapore. The government will also have to welcome more immigration in the next decade to oppose the low fertility rate, he said.
In order to avoid the pressure on infrastructure and other services that caused an immigration boom up to 2011, Lee's plans suggest that the government is trying to prevent a possible influx of foreign workers by first installing the necessary infrastructure, Tan said.
"There will probably be a larger shift of taxes to the rich," he said. "They will turn on the crane, but not so quickly" about immigration, prior to completing those infrastructure projects in the next decade or so, Tan said.
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