New incentives to promote marriage, parenthood

Singapore has since released new measures to promote marriage and parenthood, including providing affordable and available public housing, assisting reproduction, as well as incentives of healthcare and paternity leave.

   The city-state's National Population and Talent Division, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package, aims at providing more comprehensive support for Singaporeans in getting married and starting their families.
   For young parents, they will get priority to buy their first public housing flat if they have to raise children below 16 years old. Thirty per ent of new flats will be set aside to be reserved for them, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.
Meanwhile, for women who have difficulty in getting pregnant, the government will help pay a bigger share of Assisted Reproduction Technology treatments.
   Fathers will get government-paid paternity leave of one week for more involvement in raising children. This is on top of the one-week leave they can co-share with mothers under the working mother's maternity leave entitlement of four months.
   The government also announced some necessary leaves for working parents to take care of their teenage children, while adopters will get essential leaves "to support bonding with the adopted child in the child's first year".
   Besides, the government also raised baby bonus cash gift too. The Central Provident Fund Medisave account for each citizen newborn with a grant of 3,000 Singapore dollars (2,459 US dollars) will also be set aside for future healthcare costs.
   The government said it is the third round of measures to enhance the Marriage and Parenthood Package, which will cost the government 2 billion Singapore dollars (1.64 billion US dollars) a year, a rise from 1.6 billion Singapore dollars (1.31 billion US dollars) budget previously.
   Local media Channel NewsAsia quoted Teo as saying that Singapore's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) rose slightly last year, with 1.28-1.30 in 2012 compared with 1.2 in 2011, partly due to the "mini Dragon Year impact".
   He also added the government's target is to move the total fertility rate up to 1.4 or 1.5.
   The country has been suffering for quite a long time from its aging population and extreme low birth rate. According to official data, the TFR saw a steady drop from 1.6 in 2000 to 1.2 in 2011. (Xinhua)