The main aim of the Silver Support Scheme that gives low-income seniors cash payouts for life is to temper inequality in Singapore, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.
The permanent scheme will benefit about 150,000 and be rolled out early next year.
In his wrap-up of the three- day Budget debate, Mr Tharman laid out the six policy initiatives underpinning a new social compact the Government has been putting in place in the past seven to eight years.
One of them is the introduction of redistributive schemes that reduce inequality. These include the Silver Support Scheme and Workfare programme, which boosts the income of low-wage workers.
Together, they are a key pillar of Singapore's social security system, said Mr Tharman.
"I have to emphasise again that (Silver Support) is not about tackling absolute poverty. It is about mitigating inequality," he added.
Many among the bottom 30 per cent of the elderly have other income sources, such as personal savings and money from relatives.
Also, there are other dedicated ways to help the most needy Singaporeans, he said, citing the network of Social Service Offices and the Public Assistance scheme. What sets the Silver Support and Workfare schemes apart is that they aim to supplement incomes to mitigate inequalities. Hence, they will stay permanent even as living standards rise, he said.
Addressing concerns from MPs such as Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) and Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) on their sustainability, Mr Tharman said Silver Support and its future funding needs have been built into Singapore's fiscal planning.
It will be funded out of the annual Budgets. This is unlike the Pioneer Generation Package, which is fully paid for from the revenues collected during this term of government, he added.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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