Go beyond pioneer package, says NSP

SINGAPORE - More can be done to help senior citizens in their golden years, over and above the recently announced Pioneer Generation Package, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) said last Friday.

The opposition party threw up ideas such as a social pension scheme for old folk, and waiving the maid levy for seniors who want to hire domestic help.

This year's Budget, NSP secretary-general Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss added, was also a missed opportunity to lay the foundation for building a kind and gracious society.

"With all its bells and whistles about how it will repay the debt owed to a certain generation of Singaporeans for their contributions to the country, it only reinforces the transactional value of our society," she told reporters at the party headquarters in Jalan Besar.

The $8 billion package was the centrepiece of the Budget announced last week, and meant to honour the contributions of those who helped build up the foundations for modern-day Singapore.

It will provide help with health-care costs for those aged 65 and older this year, and who became citizens before 1987.

Ms Chong-Aruldoss said: "A kind and gracious society is one which takes care of our elderly because they are our elderly, and not because of what they had given, done or sacrificed in their younger days when they were able."

The NSP proposed further measures such as a social pension scheme for all senior citizens, as these older Singaporeans would not have significant savings from working at a time when incomes were meagre.

The party also called for more polyclinics to be built and their operating hours extended, and to further enhance the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).

This subsidises care at private general practitioners and dental clinics. Currently, depending on household income and the number and severity of chronic illnesses, Chas beneficiaries can claim up to $480 per year.

"This level of subsidies may not be enough for people with multiple chronic diseases, or if they are disabled," said NSP member Ravi Philemon.

He suggested doubling subsidy levels for beneficiaries with three or more chronic diseases or those with disabilities.

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