Missed the National Day Rally 2019 (NDR 2019) this year cos’ you were out having #fam #dins (lingo for family dinners)? Not to worry, we got it covered for you.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a super long list of what Singaporeans can look forward to in the near future. We’ll be zooming into 5 important things that your brains can and need to register from NDR 2019. Read carefully as at least one of it will impact you significantly.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Your kids will have a bright future in Singapore
That’s the key message of all the education-related announcements. First up – preschool education will be made affordable to more Singaporeans! Right now, if your monthly household income is $7,500 and below, you will be eligible for childcare subsidies of $300 to $440 a month.
But this is about to change because from next year onwards, the income ceiling will be raised to $12,000! That means to say a working couple earning $6,000 each will only need to fork out about $300 a month instead of about $700+ for sending their kid to a PCF Sparkletots/NTUC My First Skool child care centre! That’s at least $400 in savings a month for each child and it’s about to benefit 30,000 more households once this new policy kicks in!
If you’re not fussy about sending your kids to a government-supported preschool (so no atas private preschool that costs you more than $2,000 a month), you’ll be happy to know that there’ll be more options for you in the future! The government is probably building more childcare centres and aims to increase government-supported preschools from 50% to 80% over time.
Every school WILL be a good school! As parents, you can be assured that you don’t have to clock in the extra hours at work to earn that promotion just to send your kids to atas preschool centres for good education. Regardless of income background, your kid will have a good headstart from young and can compete on a level-playing field with those from private schools once they enter primary school.
2. Kids from lower-income families will NOT be disadvantaged
This is a big point from PM’s speech this year. From studying medicine to graduating from a diploma or degree course of your own choice, the government is determined to maintain Singapore as an open meritocracy. This means, if you’re doing well in school but facing financial difficulties at home, you should not need to take a step back in your education journey for your family. You will be given the opportunity to excel, just like other kids who can afford it.
Medical students typically pay $29,000 to $35,000 a year for their bachelor course at a local university. This is very unaffordable for good students who come from underprivileged families. PM announced that lower-income students will only need to pay $5,000 a year, with the rest covered. That’s about one-sixth the cost for having a full shot at becoming a good doctor!
If studying medicine is not your kind of thing, don’t worry. There are increased bursaries for university and polytechnic students. Students taking degree courses in local universities will get bursaries of up to 75% of their degree fees – this is an increase from 50%. Polytechnic students will get up to 95% in bursaries – this is an increase from 80%. The changes will also include degree and diploma students from ITE, NAFA and LASELLE.
Side point – annual fees for general degree students from SIT and SUSS will be reduced from $8,000 to $7,500 a year. That’s $500 in savings for all parents in general!
3. Employers cannot stop your elderly parents from working
Your parents can officially retire at 63 in 2022 and eventually at 65 by 2030! The retirement age today stands at 62.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Retirement age does not mean your parents will be forced to work till 62 or 65. What it actually means is that employers are not allowed to terminate any employee’s contract if he or she has not reached retirement age. That means, by law, your parents have the right to work until retirement age if they wish to continue to work longer and accumulate their savings for retirement.
Re-employment age will also increase from 67 to 68 in 2022 and eventually to 70 in 2030. The difference between re-employment and retirement is that re-employment makes it mandatory for employers to offer re-employment for workers who wish to continue working beyond retirement age. These policies are actually pro-workers, protecting the workers’ rights to continue employment for as long as it’s provided by law. Good employers can choose to go the extra mile and employ older workers beyond re-employment age. Some workers are even working beyond 80 with the blessings of their employers!
4. More CPF for older workers
This is an extended point from point 3 which totally deserves a paragraph on its own. Thankfully the Government is fair enough to see that by extending the retirement and re-employment age, older workers deserve to have more CPF as well.
Today, CPF contribution rates for older workers taper down after they hit age 55 – long story short, while it may sound discriminatory, it is actually positive discrimination. The main rationale for this is to incentivise employers to hire older workers. We shouldn’t kid ourselves and pretend that ageism doesn’t exist in our society – it still does.
That said, it is comforting to know that the Government has finally accepted a recommendation by the tripartite workshop to increase CPF contribution rates for older workers. The process will kick in from 2021. No details were revealed at this moment – it is usually only announced by the Finance Minister during the Singapore Budget the following year.
In case you’re wondering, there are no changes to CPF withdrawal ages and policies.
5. HDB flats by the southern coastline
This is probably the most exciting piece of news for the young!
The Government will be building 9,000 public and private housing units along the southern coastline – from Gardens by the Bay East area to Pasir Panjang. The 2,000ha site will be twice the size of Punggol with waterfront promenades, greenery and open spaces! #startsavingnow!
Remember how PM Lee unveiled Punggol 21 plans during his National Day Rally 2007 speech? Today, Punggol is a bustling and vibrant waterfront town with more than 35,000 HDB flats and many more under construction.
The Greater Southern Waterfront is not just a paper plan. It will happen just like how Punggol became a reality for many young families looking forward to build their dream home.
The National Day Rally speech this year has been very welcoming for most Singaporeans, especially those who tuned in to watch PM’s speech for the very first time. See comments below.
How did you find the rally speech? Leave us a comment below.