More funds and support to encourage marriage and parenthood
Details of enhanced 2008 Marriage and Parenthood Package announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng. -AsiaOne
While getting married and having children remain a personal choice among couples, the government is showing its commitment by supporting couples in seeking better work-life balance, providing affordable and accessible quality centre-based childcare and financial support for parents to raise and care for their children..
The details of the enhanced 2008 Marriage and Parenthood Package was announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, Minister-In-Charge of Population Issues and Chairman of the National Population Committee (NPC).
Married couples who want to increase their brood can look forward to both financial and non-financial goodies for any child beyond their fourth, while benefits have also been enhanced for couples' first to fourth children.
The budget for the enhance package is expected to increase to $1.6 billion when fully implemented, said Mr Wong. This is double the current M&P package of $800 million.
Mr Wong said: "We must treat the problem of low fertility seriously, and try to raise our total fertility rate. Although getting married and having children is a personal choice, the government is committed to fostering an overall family-friendly environment so that Singaporeans can have more support in getting married and having and raising children."
The government's multi-prong approach include providing mothers with more maternity leave, which will be extended to 16 weeks from the current 12 weeks period, of which eight weeks will be paid for by the government, capped at $20,000 per confinement, inclusive of CPF contributions. For the third and subsequent confinements, the full 16 weeks will be funded by the Government, capped at $40,000 per confinement, inclusive of CPF contributions.
There will also be increments in the Qualifying Child Relief/Handicapped Child Relief (QCR/HCR) and Working Mother?s Child Relief (WMCR).
Parents with qualifying children (existing or newborn), the QCR will increase from $2000 to $4,000 per child, and the HCR from $3,500 to $5,500 per child. The
The total amount of QCR/HCR and WMCR claimable will now be capped at $50,000 per child, twice the current cap of $25,000.
The Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR) will also be extended to the first child and beyond the fourth child. The PTR will be $5,000 for the first child, $10,000 for the second, and $20,000 for each subsequent child. Both parents may use the PTR to offset their income tax payable. Parents of children born or legally adopted on or after Jan 1, 2008 will be able to claim the enhanced PTR from Year of Assessment 2009.
The Baby Bonus will also be boosted. The cash gift and dollar-for-dollar government matching contribution for the Children Development Account (CDA), will be enhanced.
The cash gift for the first and second child will be raised from $3,000 to $4,000, while the government matching contribution will be extended to the first
Parents are also given more childcare leave with the number of paid leave days upped to six from the current two days per parent if for any child below the age of seven. The first three days will be employer-paid while the last three days will be Government-paid (capped at $500 per day, inclusive of CPF contributions).
For the first time, parents are also entitled to unpaid infant care leave of six days per year per parent if one has a Singaporean child below the age of two, and parents with a child under the age of two are entitled to both paid childcare leave and unpaid infant care leave.
To raise the quality of professsional child care in Singapore, funding for eligible kindergarten operators will be increased. The total recurrent grant to be
There will also be higher educational and qualification requirements for pre-school teachers by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. These include providing scholarships and bursaries for the professional upgrading of deserving teachers in childcare centres. Centres will also adopt an integrated curriculum framework and introduce a teacher-child ratio to ensure that there are adequate trained teachers in childcare centres.
Childcare affordability was also addressed in the package. From Jan 1, 2009, the subsidy for working mothers sending their Singaporean children to centre-based childcare will increase from $150 to a maximum of $300 per month per child. The subsidy for centre-based infant care will increase from $400 to a maximum of $600 per month
The government is also signalling a change towards encouraging singles from all walks of life to network and mingle - despite any disparity in their academic qualifications. The Social Development Unit (SDU), which currently caters to graduate singles, and the Social Development Service (SdS), which currently caters to non-graduate singles, will be merged to deliver enhanced dating and matchmaking services for all singles.
From Sep 1, 2008, couples who have difficulties conceiving will be able to look for to financial assistance from the Government. It will co-fund couples who receive Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) treatments received at the public hospitals. Singaporean couples can receive 50% co-funding (up to $3,000) for each ART treatment cycle for a maximum of three cycles.
For more details of the measures, the public can visit the M&P website www.family.gov.sg/MnP or call the M&P Hotline at 1800-233-2229. More information on the leave measures will also be available at www.profamilyleave.gov.sg from Jan 1, 2009.
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