2 Mar 2012, 4.14PM
Speaking at the Parliament on 1 Mar, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that the Government is studying ways to develop a strategy that will produce a sustainable population which will ensure the country thrives as well as meets its people's aspirations in the future.
The development of this strategy is the “most critical” issue Singapore faces in the long run and it is important for both the Government and people to have shared understanding of how to tackle the challenge, he said. To this end, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) will consult various stakeholders and release a White Paper by the end of the year, setting out the issues important to Singaporeans and strategies for a sustainable population.
DPM Teo also cautioned that Singapore is at a 'demographic turning point' this year, when the first cohort of post-war baby boomers starts turning 65. This marks the start of an 'unprecedented age shift', with more than 900,000 set to retire from now to 2030. He painted a dire picture of Singapore's future if birth rates stay at today's low levels and there is no immigration. The workforce will shrink and there will be less support for a growing elderly pool.
On an optimistic note, DPM Teo said, “While we face serious demographic challenges and difficult trade-offs in managing population growth, Singapore has a good foundation on which we can build our future.”
DPM Teo also announced the enhancement of two pro-family measures, in response to MPs who asked for greater support to raise birth rates. First, parents can tap on the Child Development Account for more types of expenditure from Jan next year, and until their children are aged 12. The second measure is aimed at helping Singaporeans with foreign spouses. From April, foreign spouses who have not been granted citizenship or PR will be able to stay here longer (three years instead of one year) under the Long Term Visit Pass Plus or LTVP+ scheme.
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