Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baby Bonus Signals

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) falls on February 10. Yet the Baby ang pows are distributed one month ahead. A sharp reporter queried Teo Chee Hean about the timing effect for Punggol East voters. You bet the Pinocchio nose extended by at least another inch when he replied that the by-election was "not a factor in consideration".

Pork barrel politics aside, there is this question about the extra $400 million spending for pro-family measures, a jump from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. The number presumably is derived from several components:
Housing Priority - no real cash, just a change in the queue position;
Medical Costs - subsidies for fertility treatment upped from 50 to 75 percent, capped at $6,300. It's no big deal if the subsidies are defined per the NKF model;
Baby Bonus  - real cash incentive, upped $2,000 for first ($6,000) and second child ($8,000). The $3,000 for each newborn is locked up in Medisave;
Work-life Balance - child-care leave, adoption leave, maternity leave pay-in-lieu are benefits not clearly monetized, the cash equivalents are hard to pin down;
Paternity Leave - ditto, this item is almost impossible to assign a dollar value to, especially when the Gini coefficient has edged higher to 0.473.

At the end of the day, no one knows if the $400 million will be fully dispensed. Even if it is, the sum pales in comparison with the $1.1 billion gifted to a private bus company. Don't look now, but the air force is eying the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which costs as much as US$160 million a plane.

Teo said, "It's not really the amount of money that's important but the kind of signals we're sending." We read the signals alright, like when the Budget presentation is scheduled on 25 February, after the by-election is over. Only then will we know the bill for the goodies.

When an obviously pregnant Australian tourist was spotted queuing up at one of our food courts, we had to pop her the question. Yes, she said, all deliveries at public hospitals in her country are free of charge, you only pay if you opt for private. ST Writer Aaron Low ("Cash is no magic bullet") went further and asked, "Why not just make child care free?". Per capita GDP of Australia is US$40,800. Per capita GDP of Singapore is US$60,500. What kind of signals did they say they are sending?


  1. what a deliciously wicked piece.

  2. Leong Sze Hian's latest:

    [Rich get $8.2b procreation tax benefits vs $2b procreation benefits?}

  3. The Void Decker's latest:

    [I got you babe, in our marriage & parenthood package]

  4. TR Emeritus latest:

    [TCs develop the software for $5M before selling to AIM for $140K?]

  5. "It's not really the amount of money that's important but the kind of signals we're sending."
    Teo Chee Hean

    So send us a signal lah!
    Reduce your salary to $1/year.

    1. This is the same guy who asked children for answers to policy questions.

  6. Bet we will attract a lot of new citizens who will milk the system and scoot back to thier country before child is liable for NS.

  7. Good, big nose Teo, as usual, sending us signals with his nose. haha

  8. Just an aside, isn't "Spring Festival" used now to accommodate the Chinese FT?

    We locals have always known it as "Chinese New Year" or "Lunar New Year".

  9. PAP is worried. They just could not tell you straight. So don't pressure them lah. After the BE, if PAP wins, these benefits would likely to go thriugh some "adjustments". Have you ever heard of free lunch from PAP?

  10. They make you have quick fun by paying for the condoms, then you end up whole life paying for $400/mth child, numerous overseas school trips, tuition, fight FT sons for primary school places, risk ending up In The End, or spend money paying for foreiign universitty education while their sons get to be "scholars" and skip NS. Silliporeans are not so dumb, these stingy PAPies still want to show its our fault and bring more FTs, that is why childcare will never be free, coz PCF and My first skool needs to make money for Chandra and Co.

    Separately, on that F35 thingy, Mindef is a bottomless pit, but its also where in neighboring countries, politicians and top civil servants make a bundle! Even folks on this blog might not want to believe that this could happen in the red dot, remember, Old Yoda is chummy with Kissinger, the chairman of the top defence think tank in Washington, which means lobbying for Lockheed Martin and Boeing, makers of F35, F15 etc.

    Oh, someone mentioned the other Teo paid NCS $5m for that piece of "non-maintainable" shit, which was sold to AIM for ~$140k. I hope people start looking into EMS too, for that super hot deal for sub-market rate rental to FT workers and their employers (incl SMRT??).

    1. Agree.
      We need to study the procurement contracts of our Ministry of Defence.
      I hope there are no $2 companies lurking in those contracts.

  11. Voices, TODAYonline:

    [A tale of two public healthcare systems]

    "I lived in Hong Kong from 2004 to 2007 and experienced its public healthcare system during my pregnancy there."

  12. There are two ways for unhappy sinkies to handle themselves.

    One is to sell off everything and leave.

    Another is to vote out the regime.

    No use trying to reason with deaf frogs.

    But, for those sinkies that khaw peh khaw boo over everything and instantly become pacified and bought over by some sweets, no suggestion for them. They may like to depend on their deities. These people are likely to form the majority of the 60% which consist mainly the elderlies, unemployed housewives and the physically and mentally impaired.

  13. BBC Video:

    [Singapore's US$815m bid for a baby boom]

    "The government in Singapore is to spend S$1bn (US$815m; £515m) in a bid to reverse the country's declining birth rate.

    The money will pay for new measures such as priority access to public housing and help with medical bills.

    But for many people, the lifelong cost of raising a family and the impact of it on their careers are too high a price to pay."

  14. Shouldn't these baby booster incentives be announced by the Finance Minister as part of the Yearly Budget Announcement? So what is the DPM trying to achieve here by letting out the secrets out of the bag prematurely? Is his action not tantamount to reveal secrets against the Official Secrets Act?

    1. They are so desperate that they pre-announce everything that sounds good to the ear except the most important question "who pay ?" .

      But the lor, thing that sounds good does not means it come true.

      Anyone remember Woody Goh who promise $100 millions for Hougang if PaP win vote but admit don't know where the money comes from ?

  15. They must be really getting desperate, rolling out all the pork barrels now, just before an election. After it's over, back to the new normal - 6.5 million population, million dollar ministers, higher and higher cost of living, super expensive flats and cars, more expensive medical care, levies, etc etc etc.

    Like their funds for targeted help, medifunds, FDWGs, etc, these funds for baby bonus will just continue to cumulate year after year. If they are serious about the fertility rate, there should be free deliveries at public hospitals and free child care/pre-schools. Send the signal now. I know, I know, they will ask again, "where is the money going to come from?".

    1. What if they send the wrong signals to the Malay community to procreate at a higher rate? Does it mean the authorities then will need to increase the influx of new immigrants from PRC & India to counterbalance them?

      When is the vicious cycle going to stop?

  16. How about this as a signal TCH.
    The UK has cut 8,000 army in 2012 and just announced another layoff tranche 4,000 this week.

    Apparently only in SG, we pay off these parents-to-be with baby bribes of $1400m compared to old cry babies in the billions when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. IS easier for ESM Goh to say babies must be celebrated. Looks more like ARmy Generals are more hugely celebrated, at least once a year during national day parade.

  17. PAP getting desparate over a By Election in one of the smallest constituency in the tiny island.

    Dont think so.
    The Single Seat is of much less significant than Aimgate.
    Even if it wins in the By Election, there is not much to change the status quo.

    This By Election does provide Singaporeans much more and better
    understandings of what our Rulers are made of. They are very much put into the defensive for the many boos boos they have created themselves.


  18. Why not a monthly child care allowance? Some signals are not correct leh. Are they trying to boost fertility rate and casino revenue the same time?

  19. The singles and childless couples should just pack up and emigrate. We never get any benefits and still have to share the load in covering duties of colleagues while they take childcare or maternity leave.

    Where are the compensation to these staff? What's in it for them even though they contribute by taking on more load?

    If this unequal, unfair and preferential treatment continues, I won't be surprised if more singles and childless couples vote for the opposition.

  20. Smoke signal - as all ns-men would know - throwing smoke.