TLDR; Helping seniors meet retirement needs, more support for our ageing population and tweaks to the housing system are the main focus for the National Day Rally 2023.
In the midst of all the Presidential Elections drama, (ahem, George Goh, ahem), life still needs to go on.
Every year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation at the National Day Rally, where he shares key policy matters. If you didn’t manage to watch the speech, here are 3 key things you need to know.
$7 billion Majulah Package to help 1.4 billion people meet retirement needs
PM Lee acknowledged the challenges Young Seniors (those in their 50s to early 60s) face – eg, having to care for aging parents, deal with their own health problems, and having to care for their children who are young adults but not yet fully independent.
To help Young Seniors reach their retirement goals, the Government has introduced the Majulah Package – for Singaporeans aged 50 and above (those born in 1973 or earlier).
The Majulah Package will include the following;
- First: “Earn and Save” Bonus to help build up CPF savings as they work. Lower and middle income workers will get a CPF bonus of up to $1,000 a year, sponsored by the Government as long as the individual is working full-time or part-time. This will be on top of the usual employer and employee contributions.
- Second: A CPF Retirement Savings Bonus (RSB) – especially for those who have not reached the CPF Basic Retirement Sum – of up to $1,500, including for those who aren’t working.
- Third: A Medisave Bonus – a top-up of up to $1,000 to MediSave Accounts.
These top-ups and bonuses will be extended to the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation as well.
Calls for the government to strengthen retirement adequacy for Singaporeans have been continuously advocated for by NTUC Deputy-Secretary General Heng Chee How. DSG Heng has been the voice for older workers – from calling for middle-aged caregivers to return to work to improving the CPF contribution rates of older workers aged 55 to 70. The Majulah Package shows the Government’s commitment to listening to the needs of our older workers.
More initiatives to care for seniors – mentally and physically
Singapore is one of the fastest-ageing nations in the world. Currently, about one in five Singaporeans is a senior aged 65 and above, and a projected 2,000 centenarians (people aged 100 years and above), by 2030.
As such, the Government is playing a big role in providing care for our ‘super-aged’ population. The Ministry of Health (MOH) launched the Healthier SG last month. Enrolling in the Healthier SG means that you will get a personalised health plan, including where to go for screenings and vaccinations.
Apart from physical health, PM Lee also emphasised on the importance of mental wellness. Active Ageing Centres (AACs) have been set up all over Singapore to encourage seniors to stay socially active and have a sense of purpose,so they don’t succumb to loneliness. The Government will also make the physical environments or HDB homes and precincts more senior-friendly.
No more mature and non-mature estates, Government to introduce Prime, Standard and Plus models
To continue keeping HDB flats affordable with a good social mix and fair, PM Lee introduced a new “Plus” model for the selling of BTO flats in choicier locations (think Ang Mo Kio Central Weave BTO Project), with moderated prices but with tighter restrictions.
“Plus” flats will be subjected to a longer Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) – 10 years instead of 5 years. The Government will also implement tighter restrictions for home-owners who would like to sell their flats later on – subsidy recovery to take part of the extra subsidies to be fair to the other buyers who did not get these subsidies during the BTO exercise, and also an income ceiling for resale buyers.
Remember those 1.1million resale flat sales? Putting these restrictions in place will help to moderate flat prices – so that flats can continue to remain affordable for all.
Singles will also be able to purchase flats across all 3 categories – Prime, Plus and Standard. Today, singles are only allowed to apply for a 2-room flexi flat from non-mature estates. Under this new framework, singles have the room to choose flats in more locations.
To end off his speech, PM Lee reiterated the importance of keeping Singapore’s system clean and effective. As part of Lee Kuan Yew’s 100th birth anniversary, PM Lee reflected on the values and ideals championed by Mr Lee and the founding fathers – a nation founded on justice and equality, religious freedom and racial harmony, a commitment to excellence, a fair system of meritocracy and an uncompromising emphasis on an honest and clean government.
“For the good of the country, I will do all I can to keep faith with Mr Lee’s hope – No matter the price; no matter the embarrassment; no matter the political cost – I will do my utmost to keep the system clean. Every generation of PAP leaders must always stand by this.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong