Singapore Budget 2019: S$6.1b Merdeka Generation Fund to be set up

THE Singapore government will set aside S$6.1 billion for a new Merdeka Generation Fund, aimed at funding the Merdeka Generation Package (MGP) that will cost S$8 billion - in current dollars - over the Merdeka Generation's lifetimes, said Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on Monday.

The S$6.1 billion Merdeka Generation Fund will have interest accumulated over time to cover the full projected costs of the MGP, Mr Heng said.

The package is targeted at close to 500,000 Singaporeans, with the Merdeka Generation aged 60 to 69 today.

Those born in the 1950s and who obtained citizenship by 1996, will qualify for benefits under the MGP. In addition, the Singapore government will extend the MGP benefits to those born in 1949 or earlier but who missed out on the Pioneer Generation Package, if they had obtained citizenship by 1996.

There are five key benefits under the MGP, aimed broadly at boosting subsidies that target these seniors' healthcare needs.

Firstly, all Merdeka Generation seniors will receive a one-time S$100 top-up to their PAssion Silver cards. These can be used to pay for activities and facilities at community clubs, and for public transport, among others.

Secondly, the government will provide a MediSave top-up of S$200 per year for five years for the Merdeka Generation, beginning from this year until 2023. This will help these seniors save more for their healthcare needs, said Mr Heng.

Thirdly, Merdeka Generation seniors will receive additional subsidies for outpatient care, for life. These include funding support for treatment against common illnesses, chronic conditions, and dental procedures. At polyclinics and public specialists outpatient clinics, they will also get 25 per cent off their subsidised bills. This is on top of prevailing subsidies available.

To add, the Merdeka Generation seniors will have additional MediShield life premium subsidies for life. All Merdeka Generation seniors will get subsidies for their premiums, starting from 5 per cent of their MediShield Life premiums, and increasing to 10 per cent after they reach 75 years of age. This is again, on top of the means-tested subsidies that lower-to-middle income Singaporeans are already receiving.

Finally, the Singapore government will provide an additional participation incentive of S$1,500 for Merdeka Generation seniors who join CareShield Life. This is when it become available for existing cohorts in 2021. All in, Merdeka Generation seniors who join CareShield Life will receive participation incentives totalling S$4,000 each. This is meant to cover a "significant portion" of their premiums, and is on top of the regular means-tested premium subsidies.

All eligible seniors will receive the MGP benefits, regardless of their income. They will be notified by April 2019, and receive their Merdeka Generation cards from June 2019.

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