1.23.2013

Parenthood Package - The bottomline



Marriage and Parenthood Package a.k.a Make more babies package © Heybaby.sg

National Conversation
The much anticipated enhancement to the marriage and parenthood package was unveiled 2 days ago. Set to a tune of SGD 2 billion, it's main aim is to encourage procreation and to raise the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 1.4/1.5 in Singapore.




With a headline picture from Today stating a 'bonus' of $166,000 for families with 2 kids, my interest is piqued since I have 2 kids. Does it mean I get a part of the bonus too?
Let's explore the enhancements and its impact for a family with 2 young kids ( aka us). Full details of the enhancements can be found at www.heybaby.sg)

Do you get $166000 bonus? © ST

Parenthood Priority Scheme (Jan 2013)
First Timer married couples with children will be given priority allocation for HDB flats
Impact : None

Parenthood Provisional housing scheme (Jan 2013)
First -timer married couples with children can rent a flat from HDB at an affordable rate while awaiting the completion of their flat
Impact : None

Enhance Co-Funding for Assisted Reproduction Technology(ART ) Treatment (1 Jan 2013)
Govt will c-fund up to 75% if each ART treatment in a public hospital. Couple with more than 1 child will also be eligible
Impact : None ( Unless we want another child?)

Accouchement Fees for higher order births (1 Jan 2013)
Fees in public hospital will no longer be differentiated across birth order
Impact : None

Enhanced baby bonus (1 Jan 2013)
Cash gift increase to $6000 for 1st and second child (up from $4000) and $8000 ( Up from $6000) for third child.
CDA extended by 6 years to when a child turns 12
Impact : Able to use the CDA till 12. However with the high cost of pre-schools, we estimated the CDA account to be depleted by age 6 for both.

Medishield Coverage for Congenital & Neonatal Conditions (May 2013)
Newborns will be covered under Medishield from birth without having to be assessed for per-conditions, as long as parents do not opt them out.
Impact : None ( But we do think this is a good enhancement for new babies)

Extended Childcare Leave (May 2013)
2 days of paid leave for both parents for child age 7-12
Impact : None (Both boys are under 7)

Adoptive Leave (1 May 2013)
Adoptive mothers with infant below 12 months entitled to 4 weeks leave
Impact : None

Enhanced Maternity Protection for Pregnant Employees (1 May 2013)
Working Mothers will be entitled to maternity leave if they are dismissed without sufficient cause of retrenched during the full duration of their pregnancy
Impact : None

Government-Paid Maternity benefits for shorter term workers (1 May 2013)
Working mothers who are in employment for a total of 9- days in the 12 months leading up to childbirth may apply for government paid maternity benefits
Impact : None

Paternity Leave
Working Fathers to be entitled to one week paid leave
Shared Parental Leave
Working Fathers entitled to share 1 week of the 16 weeks of maternity leave, subjected to the agreement of the mother
Impact : None ( but we were tickled by the seeking of permission part)

Child and infant care Subsidies
For those earning $7500 and below, additional subsidy from $100 to $400
Impact : None, the boys are in kindergarten and childcare subsidies does not apply. Perhaps the measures could be extended to kindergarten as well in the future. In anycase , let's hope childcare center does not use this to increase fees. Otherwise, this is indeed one of the better measures.

We had raised the issue of low fertility rates and gave some suggestions for parenthood package in our previous posts. Reviewing the measures implemented, we were a little disappointed at the scope and impact on existing family nucleus (With the exception of a better queue number for HDB) As a Baby Booster package, these measures would be a welcome bonus to those who are starting a family. In fact, some measures are commendable and well thought. However as a parenthood package, it is underwhelming for many families with kids. As for the impact on our family, the measures are a complete ho hum to us.


The measures had been lauded as a breakthrough for fathers, and thus aims to enhance father's role in the upbringing of the children. We beg to differ as 1 week of paternal leave does not equate to a father's role in the child upbringing( which incidentally is a lifetime). Moreover the lack of financial recognition such as working fathers income relief does little to suggest recognition to the Father's role in a family.
The Straits Times call this a gender equal package.We wonder how does 1 week paternity week with an additional week to be granted by the Mother be gender-equal? Gender equality or gender discrimination?

The main gripe about the enhance measures is that the cost of raising a child is not address with these enhancements. Yes it does provide some relief for new parents, but it does not help much to those who had already achieved the TFR and do not plan to have more children.

Look into the financial cost of raising a child in Singapore , it is the high overheads such as costs of housing, children education, foreign helper levy, medicine and even family attractions that will deter a couple from starting a family or expanding a brood. Unless the basic cost of living is addressed, the new measures may have limited impact. To make ends meet, there are many dual income families in Singapore. With both parents in the workforce, would it be fair for the children to be raised by the grandparents or helpers?

Address the cost of living in Singapore, then you would see an increase in birthrates.To be perfectly clear, our intention to have children was not driven by monetary incentives, rather the desire to start a family. We do acknowledge that rising costs does play a part in deterring family planning in today's context In all honesty we did do some sums on affordability before embarking on parenthood.

So did these measures hit the mark?
In the short run , yes.( specifically for those who wants to start a family)
On the longer term, it falls flat.

Money can't buy what is priceless...
Raising a child is a marathon and not a dash. Let's hope they will consider this reality before introducing a possible fourth enhancement of the parenthood package. Otherwise we could simply rename the Marriage and Parenthood package as Baby Booster package to better reflect its intention. That way many parents including me would set our expectations straight and not to be lulled into wishful thoughts of recognition.

And the best part after analyzing the 'returns' on the new measures : A big fat $0 bonus to us.
We do not ask for much but just a recognition that we had fulfilled our civic duties. An annual family pass to the Singapore Zoo or Universal Studios would do just fine.

Hm.... So where did the SGD 2 Billion go to?
We bet we are not the only parents scratching our heads...


4 comments:

  1. Hahaha! Now that I'm in the most eligible situation, I'm all for Singaporean citizenship!;) Some one recently said if all it takes to have babies was money, Singapore would have been flooded with them!

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  2. If you are having a baby in Singapore, it will be akin to striking a lottery. Unfortunately like most lottery earnings, it disappear after a while. The longer term cost of raising a child is causing many to rethink procreation. Too bad for us, I don't think we are going to have another one :)

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  3. I like the suggestion that it should be called a Baby Booster package! Haha! I have three and I tell you, the cash bonuses get used up as soon as we say "baby"! Before the baby was born, about 3.2k was already spent on prenatal visits and delivery and staying comfortably in a ward...

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    1. Very true Elizabeth. That is why the measures are short term at best. It is the real issues like housing costs, transport and general cost of living that people are worried about. It's a case of limited resources vs unlimited dreams and some choose to give childbirth up for their dreams. It's a different world compared to what it is back in the 80s

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