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Singaporeans want more aid for elderly, vulnerable in Budget 2014

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YASMINE YAHYA on 17 Feb 2014

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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SINGAPOREANS have called for more day-care centres for the elderly and more meal coupons for students from low-income families – part of the suggestions submitted for the upcoming Budget.


The exercise, which gathered more than 1,300 suggestions ahead of the Feb 21 Budget announcement, also found many calling on the Government to consider adjusting Central Provident Fund contribution rates for workers aged 50 to 55, to ensure parity with younger workers.


Some also noted the need to encourage companies to hire older workers and increase support for these older workers to stay in or re-enter the workforce.


Said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower and Reach chairman, Dr Amy Khor: “The comments received on Reach during this pre-Budget exercise show that Singaporeans have genuine concerns about staying relevant and employable in the job market, especially older and low-wage workers who do not wish to be left behind.”


Indeed, there were calls to look into helping workers in low-growth sectors be retrained for other jobs and to offer more aid to low-wage workers, such as greater health-care subsidies.


Health-care affordability was a big concern, with some calling for more direct subsidies or for government hospitals to charge at cost price.


Many said the use of Medisave could be liberalised.


Some were also concerned about the likely increase in premiums when the MediShield Life scheme is introduced, and urged the Government to keep them affordable.


Weighing in on the Pioneer Generation Package, some suggested giving this segment of Singaporeans priority access to health care, more subsidies for services such as nursing support, and free health screenings and dental care biannually.


To help vulnerable groups, contributors suggested having more day-care centres for the elderly and stepped-up financial help for consumable items.


They also called for more Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Account top-ups, school canteen meal coupons, and scholarships and bursaries for average performers from low-income families. Others suggested reducing polytechnic or university fees to enable students from low-income backgrounds to pursue a higher education.


Contributors also wanted more done for people with disabilities, such as more day-care centres and job opportunities.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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