Baby boom or bust? Newly-wed shares why Budget 2023 goodies to help aspiring parents may not sway her

Baby boom or bust? Newly-wed shares why Budget 2023 goodies to help aspiring parents may not sway her
Newly-married couple Fatin and Fadhil are contented to be a 'cat parent' right now
PHOTO: Fatin Kamari

If 26-year-old Fatin Kamari could sum her married life in a word, it is one of 'compromise'.

The university student, who tied the knot last September, told AsiaOne on Friday (Feb 24) how she and husband Fadhil Yusoff, 31, are "total opposites to each other".

"We have different preferences when it comes to food and movies," Fatin said. "So we give and take. [Fadhil] always gives more though."

But Fatin shared that she and her husband, who works in the semiconductor industry, are "on the same page" on their plans of having kids.

For the newly married couple, it's a matter of taking one step at a time.

"We want to have kids, but not necessarily right now," Fatin said, adding that she and her husband feel that the "best time" to have kids is about a year into their marriage.

Contented to be a 'mum' to two needy cats Ash and Misty for now, are the Government incentives enough to sway aspiring parents like Fatin to have kids of her own?

Indranee: More couples delaying or having fewer children

In a speech in Parliament on Friday (Feb 24), Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Indranee Rajah said that the Government will continue to help Singaporeans realise their marriage and parenthood aspirations.

Speaking during the PMO's Committee of Supply debate, Indranee shared how Singapore's total fertility rate reached a historic low of 1.05 in 2022 - below the previous record of 1.1 in 2020 and 1.12 in 2021.

"This was partly due to the Tiger year in the Lunar calendar, which is generally associated with lower births among the Chinese," the minister said, while noting that more people in Singapore are postponing marriage and more couples are also delaying having children or having fewer children.

And this is in line with longer-term global societal trends.

South Korea, for example, currently has the world's lowest total fertility rate at 0.78 in 2022.

Echoing Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong's Budget speech on Feb 14, Indranee shared that the Government will provide more support for the early stages of family formation in a few areas.

This includes giving first-timer families with children and younger married couples greater priority in their BTO flat applications, as well as an additional ballot.

More financial support will also be given to parents to help with the costs of raising children, in the form of the Baby Bonus cash gift and the Child Development Account First Step Grant for all eligible Singaporean children.

The Government will also increase unpaid infant care leave for each parent in the child's first two years, from six days a year to 12 days. 

Government-paid paternity leave will also be extended to four weeks, up from the current two, for eligible working fathers of children born on or after Jan 1, 2024.

"This is a big step towards normalising and enabling fathers to play a bigger role in raising our children," Indranee said.

Fatin: Still not having kids right now

While Fatin appreciates the prospect of more paternity leave for her husband, she remains unconvinced on the prospect of having kids "right now".

Speaking to AsiaOne on how couples here need to be "financially stable" before having kids, Fatin, who works part-time while studying for her degree, said: "In my opinion, the subsidies are not enough in the sense since a higher income means lower subsidies.

"It's a good thing that the Government is trying to help, but everything here is so expensive." 

So what's on the newly-married couple's wish list?

More subsidies in childcare services and support for the availability of infant care, Fatin said.

ALSO READ: Budget 2023: Baby Bonus and CDA grant up by $2,000-3,000, working mum's child relief enhanced

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