I refer to the article “PM Lee Hsien Loong zooms in on three areas for Singapore to prepare for the future” (Straits Times, Aug 9).
It states that “First, the Government will create more preschool places, raise the quality of education, and improve the skills of preschool teachers, he said. He noted that the move will provide parents with more support, and ease the burden of childcare.
“We want every child to have a good start in life, and a bright future. We have been investing in preschools, because the early childhood years make a big difference to children not just academically, but for life,” he said.”
I googled and worked out the following example of the childcare fees’ financial assistance that a family will receive:-
A couple whose Singaporean husband is self-employed and the sole breadwinner with gross monthly income of $4,501 ($4,096 after CPF Medisave contribution), with two children in full day childcare costing $1,734 (the median fee is $867 as of Q2 2017), will get financial assistance of $600 and pay net fees of $1,134.
This leaves the family with a net disposable income of $2,962 ($4,096 – $1,134).
If we assume that the monthly mortgage on their HDB flat is $899 ($225,000 HDB loan for 30 years at 2.6 per cent) – the net disposable income becomes $2,063.
Isn’t $2,063 a month for a family of four kind of tight – having to pay for utilities, transport, food, schooling expenses, service and conservancy fees (S & CC), property tax, income tax, insurance premiums, phone and wifi, healthcare, savings for emergencies, etc?
Looking at the above example, is it any wonder that our Total Fertility Rate (TFR) as I understand it – is now at its lowest and the second lowest in the world?
Why do we have procreation policies that give up to $80,000 tax reliefs a year for mothers with very high income (who can easily afford to have children), whereas lower income mothers who do not have to pay any income tax may get very little tax reliefs? (“Procreation tax benefits 166x more than childcare help?“, Oct 30, 2015)
Also, why is it that a mother must work at least 56 hours a month in order to be eligible for the additional subsidy for childcare fees? Isn’t it arguably needed even more, by families which have only the husband as the sole breadwinner?
We should do more to help particularly lower income families to raise their children (“Childcare: Stingy $50m – $5.2b Budget surplus?“, ), instead of having huge Budget surpluses like the $5.2 billion for FY2016, and the typical $20 billion cash Budget surpluses a year under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines.
Leong Sze Hian