Baby Bonus cash gift to be increased by $2,000 for all babies

SINGAPORE - All Singaporean children born on or after Jan 1, 2015, will now receive an additional Baby Bonus cash gift of $2,000.

This will be disbursed between a year and 18 months after a child's birth.

In a statement on Tuesday, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) also announced that the Baby Bonus cash gift will now be extended to cover a couple's fifth and subsequent children.

Previously, parents were entitled to Baby Bonus for only their first four children. With the increases, parents will now receive $8,000 for their first two children, and $10,000 for each subsequent child.

Meanwhile, the Medisave grant for newborns will be increased from $3,000 to $4,000. This measure will help ensure that newborns start their lives with enough to pay for their MediShield Life premiums until they are 21, NPTD said.

All Singaporean babies born on or after Jan 1, 2015 qualify for the increased grant, regardless of their parents' marital status. It will be paid out from Mar 2016.

The government has also taken measures to encourage fathers to take on a greater child-raising role by increasing government-paid paternity leave for working fathers from one week to two.

The leave can be taken as a two week block within 16 weeks after the birth of a child, or flexibly within one year after a child is born if there is an agreement between employers and employees.

Fathers whose child is a Singapore citizen and is married to the child's mother qualify for the additional week of leave. They must also have served their employer continuously for at least three months before the child is born.

NPTD explained that the additional paternity leave will be implemented voluntarily for now, with the government reimbursing employers who agree to provide it.

In a separate statement, the Public Service Division said that they would be implementing the enhanced paternity leave immediately.

Minister in the Prime Minister's office Grace Fu, who oversees population matters, said that the new measures, which were first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech, have "significantly enhanced support during the child's first 18 months".

"Our wish is that we can foster a more family-friendly environment in Singapore, where parents get support all around," Ms Fu added.