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Load eased for 'sandwich' generation, low-income groups: PM
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday said the policies put in place in the last few years have lightened the load on the "sandwich generation" and helped those in the low-income bracket.
In particular, the Pioneer Generation package has helped to ease the burden of medical expenses incurred by the elderly, he told voters gathered at the lunch-time rally held in the Central Business District.
Referring to the sandwich generation - those who take care of the elderly and raise young children - he said the People's Action Party (PAP)-led government has reduced medical bills for such families through the Pioneer Generation Package, which counts about 450,000 elderly Singaporeans as beneficiaries.
"We've worked hard for the seniors - the seniors who deserve peace of mind in their golden years, who deserve to live out their years with dignity," he said.
The government has also introduced MediShield Life, a universal health-care system offering medical coverage for life, including coverage for pre-existing health conditions.
"We've improved CPF, we've introduced Silver Support to ease the burden for retirees," he said. "We're helping old people; we're helping young people too, couples, to own their own homes."
In these last four years, the government has launched 100,000 new HDB flats, which translates to one new Clementi town every year. Housing grants, in particular those for the low-income group, have been bumped up.
"We've improved the baby bonus, we've got more maternity leave, we've got paternity leave as well. So the fathers among you - I think quite a number of you are here today - please do your duty, look after your babies, don't leave it to poor mum at home," said PM Lee.
He said low-income families have been taken care of by the government through schemes such as Workfare and ComCare.
"We go that extra mile to help them, so that the basics are always within reach."
As an example, he pointed out that families which earn less than S$1,000 a month can buy a HDB two-room flat with their CPF savings; this means they do not have to come up with cash upfront.
"Where else in the world can you do that?" he asked, noting that in last four years, nearly 2,000 such families have bought two-room HDB flats.
He also observed that in general, Singaporeans are now doing better than before; they travel and can afford large-screen TVs.
"Recently, I was in Hokkaido on holiday with my family. I met dozens of Singaporeans from the first stop to the last stop. Everywhere, 'Mr Lee, how about a selfie?'" he quipped.
On the jobs front, the PAP-led government has also put in place policies to help Singaporeans to upgrade their skills, such as through SkillsFuture. The government has also tightened the number of skilled foreigners coming in, and put in place a Fair Consideration framework, which ensures that Singaporeans professionals "get a fair crack at the jobs", he said.
For the young generation, the government has created various educational paths, with new schools such as the School of the Arts and the School of Science and Technology.
"Different skills, different schools, different opportunities," said PM Lee; he referred to a picture of a rainbow he posted on social media, which has garnered tens of thousands of "likes".
"Chase that rainbow," he said, echoing a similar phrase once used by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
"The PAP has been working hard with you, to improve lives, and to take Singapore forward. And the results speak for themselves."
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