Baby Bonus scheme to be extended to every child

Baby Bonus scheme to be extended to every child
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A new Proximity Housing Grant will be granted to encourage married couples and their parents to live closer together, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech today.

Every Singaporean household will be eligible for the grant regardless of whether they are first-time buyers. More details will be announced by the Ministry of National Development at a later date.

It was one of the slew of upcoming initiatives announced by PM Lee today that are aimed at the fostering of closer familial ties and raising birth rates.

Significantly, the Baby Bonus scheme will be extended to every child instead of just the first four. The bonus amount will also be increased, PM Lee said without specifying a figure.

Also without giving a number, he said that the government will depositing more money into the Medisave account of a newborn. The new amount will be enough to cover MediShield Life premiums for the child until he or she is 21, and help with other healthcare expenses such as recommended vaccinations.

"This will give parents greater peace of mind," PM Lee said.

Currently, $3,000 is deposited into the Medisave account of a newborn in two equal tranches - after the registration of birth, and in the subsequent year if the baby is still enrolled in MediShield or a Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plan.

Lastly, PM Lee announced that fathers will get another week of paternity leave, making a total of two weeks. The government will be paying for the additional week of leave, and the new scheme will be implemented on a voluntary basis to give companies and employers time to adjust.

The Baby Bonus, Medisave Grant, and paternity leave changes apply with effect from January this year.

huizhen@sph.com.sg

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