Singapore government will come up with their 3rd review on their baby bonus scheme this year 2011 to encourage more married couples to have children.
The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will conduct a survey of 3000 parents who had received their Baby Bonus Scheme to find out how satisfied these parents are from implemented scheme in the previous years.
Under this scheme, cash incentives will be given to parents to help ease their financial cost of raising children. Cash gift up to $4,000 will be given to each for the first and second child, and S$6,000 each for the third and fourth child. Apart from these, parents also gives a dollar-for-dollar match when they contribute to their child’s Children Development Account. Parents can tap on the scheme when they register for their child’s birth at hospitals and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.
Although Singapore government gave out S$230 million in baby bonus payments in 2009, up from S$55 million in 2004, the total fertility rate did not increase accordingly.
In 2010, the total fertility rate fell to 1.16. The replacement rate is at 2.1.
Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Community Development, Youth and Sports Seah Kian Peng highlighted the need for more innovative ideas on tackling the low birth rate.
He suggested, “In housing…maybe for those who a second child, we give them a chance to upgrade, a priority to upgrade to a bigger flat.”
“We should look beyond current schemes, to see what else can be done, and really adopt a whole of a government approach, from accommodation, to housing to paternity, maternity leave and certainly the baby bonus scheme,”
Reasons behind Singaporean low birth rate
It now costs at least $350K to raise a child until they graduate from a local university.
A FRIEND OF mine recently lamented that while she really wanted a big brood, she and her husband simply couldn’t afford it. “Look at this,” she said, flinging a wad of receipts at me – her son’s preschool fees, a recent visit to the paediatrician, her grocery bill, his taekwondo class. “That’s nearly $3,000, on just one child. How to have more kids?” she wailed.
I can relate. Some months, all it takes is a visit to the paediatrician for both my kids to wipe out any headway I’m making in savings. And my kids don’t even do enrichment classes. It now costs at least $350K to raise a child until they graduate from a local university. A local university education in 2030 will cost $56K, an Australian one, $367K. These figures keep me up at night. I have visions of having to sell my house, jewellery and other possessions to fund my two kids through university. And what if we have more children? Will they have to work their way through school? Will I have to work beyond retirement?
The future isn’t all that bleak, actually – though you still can’t convince me to stop worrying about it. Our story on p88 has good advice on what you should be saving towards for your kids, and how to make your money grow for you.
It doesn’t help that my children are products of the digital age. Those kinds of “toys” don’t come cheap. My four-year-old, Claire, loves drawing on her daddy’s iPad, watching Barney, and she’s discovered Nintendo too. Even my 15-month-old, Maddy, seems riveted by the iPad.