Singapore: High Cost Of Living Dominates National Day Rally Speech By Prime Minister
Singaporeans will have to adopt more lifestyle changes to ease the pressures of high cost of living, even as the economy continues to grow at an impressive rate. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the pronouncement while addressing the nation at this year’s National Day Rally.
Singapore High Cost Of Living
While acknowledging that the government is aware of the effects of high the cost of living, the Prime Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to try and ease some of the pressures. Singaporeans have had to contend with the high cost of living in recent years, a situation that seems to be getting dire by the day.
Unlike their forefathers, Singaporeans nowadays have access to world-class healthcare and education, in addition to a high rate of home ownership. However, it appears the same is taking a toll on young families looking to make kids to school in addition to taking care of aging parents.
The cost of living also seems to have skyrocketed due to changing lifestyles that have come into being because of economic growth and technological progress. While a good thing, the Prime Minister believes, most families will have to change their lifestyles and try to live by their means.
Another group of people feeling the pinch despite economic growth are those whose salaries have stagnated even as the prices of essential goods continue to skyrocket. There are also those that have lost their jobs as the economy transforms, in line with the digital age. Retirees who no longer have another source of income other than savings also continue to feel the pinch.
“Our standards of living have gone up. This is a positive development because it means our lives have improved. However, to sustain this higher quality of life, people are spending more than before, and this can put pressure on households,” said the Prime Minister.
Inflation which has ticked higher in recent months has also continued to put pressure on the price of goods to the concern of most people.
Curbing High Cost of Living
Concerned by the effects of high inflation, the Prime minister said the government is taking a closer look at housing, health care and education with a view of coming up with ways that would reduce spending on this front. While promising to make the three items affordable to the reach of most people, The Prime Minister also reiterated that Singaporeans would have to do their part in making slight adjustments.
Some of the adjustments include coming up with ways to reduce spending on water and electricity bills as well as shopping around for the best prices for various items. Mobile phones and internet connection becoming a necessity by the day also means Singaporeans will have to make some adjustments as costs are expected to tick higher going forward.
Using Wi-Fi network at home to download content may have to come into play according to Mr. Lee in addition to using free internet services at public services as a way of reducing data bills.
New Healthcare Package for the Elderly
In what is seen as an attempt by the government to caution the aging population, The Prime Minister unveiled a new health care package that will cater to the needs of people born in the 1950’s. Dubbed as The Merdeka Generation Package, the new scheme will cover areas such as outpatient subsidies as well MediSave top-Ups, payouts on long-term care and subsidies for MediShield Life.
The new healthcare scheme should supplement other healthcare schemes and benefit some 500,000 Singaporeans born in the 1960s. The Prime Minister also confirmed that the Community Health Assist Scheme which provides health care services for middle and lower income people would cover chronic medical conditions. The expansion should also help the aging population.
Singapore-Malaysia Ties Still Intact
The prime minister also took time to reiterate how Malaysians and Singaporeans remain connected tied by kinships, history, geography, and economics. In the National Day Rally speech, he stressed the need of both countries working together in tackling emerging challenges that continue to affect both societies.
The remarks come at a time when Malaysia has been considering changing various policies of previous administrations. For instance, there has been standoff relating to water prices that Singapore pays for, as well as the development of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail.
Malaysia new government has in the recent past hinted at the possibility of raising the cost of water that it supplies Singapore with, reiterating that current rates are quite low. After winning the election in May, Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad hinted at the possibility of canceling the High-Speed Railway network set to connect the two countries.
Commenting on both issues, the Singapore Prime Minister stressed that the 1962 Water agreements are ‘Sacrosanct’ and that both parties should proceed in accordance with terms. Dr. Mahathir has always expressed his displeasure with the terms of the agreement which gives Singapore the right to draw up to 250 million gallons of water a day, from the Johore River.
New Scheme for Ageing Flats
Owners of older HDB Flats will also get an opportunity to go en bloc before their leases run out as part of a new scheme dubbed Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme. Eligible residents will have a chance to decide whether the government can take back their flats once the leases clock the 70-year mark.
The new scheme is designed’ to make it easy for authorities to redevelop old estates over a long period. The Home Improvement Program which subsidizes maintenance and repair costs for aging flats is to be expanded’ to cover new flats as well.
UNESCO Bid for Hawkers Culture
The Prime Minister also did confirm that they have made an application to have the country’s hawker culture, included in the Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Singapore boasts of about 110 hawker centers whereby more than 6,000 food hawkers produce an assortment of mouthwatering dishes on a daily basis.
The Prime Minister believes now is the time for the country’s rich hawker culture to be included in the prestigious UNESCO list that includes the likes of Malaysia’s Make Yong Theatre.