The PAP announced during theby-election in Punggol East that it would give young Singaporeanswaiting to start a family priority for HDB flats under the ParenthoodPriority Scheme.$CUT$
Under this scheme, young couples withat least one child under the 16 will jump to the front of the queuefor Built-To-Order (BTO) flats.
Now compare this to the SDP’s YoungFamily Priority Scheme which we introduced in November last year:We proposed that young couples with expectant mothers, or familieswith children below 12 be given priority when it comes to ballotingfor BTO flats.
Did the PAP just take the idea from theSDP?
The problem is that the PAP’sParenthood Priority Scheme is only a piecemeal measure that does little to address the bigger problem. At the top ofSingaporeans’ concerns when it comes to having children is that the cost of livingis way too high and that life in Singapore is highly stressful.
Listen to what human resourcesconsultant, MsPenelope Sim, who’s been married for six years, says: “Mymother-in-law hates me and she says I’m selfish, but I don’treally care. Everything’s crazy expensive and life’s alreadystressful enough here without kids. If there’s no one to carry onthe family name, then so be it.”
But the newly proposed measure is like putting a strip of plaster over a malignant tumour. The Government thinks that the Parenthood Priority Scheme may entice youngcouples to have a child.
But young Singaporeans are not easily tempted with half-measures that offer initial one-off help, leaving them to pay and pay for the rest oftheir lives.
The PAP refuses to see that the primary cause of the high cost ofliving is the cost of land in Singapore. The Government isdetermined to squeeze maximum profit from Singaporeans off state landwhich it has acquired for little or nothing.
Expensive land means high HDB flatprices which many Singaporeans take huge loans for, leaving themwith little money for anything else. Expensive land also means highoffice and shop-space rental which drive up prices.It is high prices that are causing the cost of living to escalate and, as mentioned, the main factor that deters young couples from having children.
Under the SDP housing plan, however, wenot only propose our Young Family Priority Scheme but also draw uppolicies to lower HDB flat prices. (See Housing A Nation: Holistic Policies For Affordable Homes.)
One of the ways to do this is tointroduce the Non-Open Market (NOM) scheme where flats are soldwithout land cost being factored in. This allows forthe flat prices and rentals to be significantly reduced thereby lowering the overall cost of living.
Other measures such as fostering aworking culture where a sound work-life balance is practiced and aneducational system that does not put undue pressure our our children (and, hence, stress on parents) will go a long way to encourage Singaporeans to havebabies.
A population-housing policy must be comprehensive and far-thinking. Piecemeal measures will not solve current problems. Worse, they may produce unintended and undesirable consequences.