SINGAPORE - During the time of Singapore's independence in 1965, many who joined the workforce did so at the age of 16.
That is why the cut-off age for the Pioneer Generation Package was lowered to 65, revealed Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo.
"I think initially there had been some suggestions that the pioneer generation refers to those who were 21 at the point of independence, which would make them 70 this year," Mrs Teo said.
But the Government received feedback that in that era, people generally started working earlier, she said.
Having a cut-off age of 65 means that the pioneer generation refers to those who were at least 16 at the time of independence.
The Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP was speaking on the sidelines of an event that paid tribute to pioneers living in Bishan North.
Some 45 residents aged 70 and above were treated to lunch at a coffee shop and given goodie bags and red packets of $80 each.
Responding to queries as to whether the Government expects any negative reactions from those who might just miss the cut-off age and feel left out, she stressed that there were plans to enhance the existing health-care support for those who did not qualify.
At a separate event, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said that while the benefits of the package were generally related to health care, the money it would free up could be used by beneficiaries for other needs.
"For example, what the elderly would otherwise be spending on their health care can now be used for transport or even housing," he said, adding that it would also lighten the financial burden on their children.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah also added that efforts will have to be made to reach out to possible beneficiaries to help them understand what they are getting.
Speaking on the sidelines of the official opening of the upgraded Block 112 Jalan Bukit Merah Market and Food Centre, which Mr Chan also attended, she said: "The concern is that they may not know the details and they don't realise how this could benefit them."
Additional reporting by Carolyn Khew
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