Almost every year, the Gahmen comes up with something to encourage Singaporeans to get married and have kids. This year, they ran out of ideas and settled for upgrading existing schemes instead. *yawnz*
According to CNA’s report, there will be more flexibility in grant and loan processes so that couples can get their homes faster. They will also increase infant-care and childcare places. Those considering to undergo Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) treatment to try for a kid can expect more financial help. MediShield Life will also be extended to cover serious pregnancy and delivery-related complications.
A tripartite standard will be introduced to encourage companies to provide unpaid leave in unforeseen situations such sudden illnesses. The Work-Life Grant will be extended and enhanced to support companies in adopting flexi-work arrangements. Do note that the last two schemes are only aimed at encouraging companies to take up these policies. They look good on newspaper only as not all companies will adopt them.
After introducing such policies for the past two decades, what they don’t realise is that these schemes don’t work. There was the Marriage and Parenthood package in 2001, subsidies for couples undergoing fertility treatment in 2008 and introduction of paternity leave in 2013. Yet, our Total Fertility Rate aka TFR continues to drop.
How is that surprising? Our work commitments take up too much of our 24-hour day. We are also not having sufficient sleep. Hence, how would we have time to date or spend time with our spouse to even discuss about the possibility of having kids? We are not robots and cannot be programmed to find someone based on some criteria or have kids when we are “supposed to”.
Our TFR has already dropped to 1.16 in 2017, the second lowest ever recorded, and yet, it wasn’t made a priority area in this year’s budget, despite the budget surplus accorded last financial year.
If our gahmen really serious in boosting our TFR, stop trying to look like you are addressing the issue and DO SOMETHING. Start by first addressing the work-life imbalance among Singaporeans. Change the horrible culture of our young adults being increasing married to their work.
Seriously, no time = no babies.
It’s very simple. Really.