Parliament: 6 things to note from Monday's (Feb 29) debate

It will cost $39.4m to stage NDP 2016 at the new National Stadium, more than double the budget of previous parades.
It will cost $39.4m to stage NDP 2016 at the new National Stadium, more than double the budget of previous parades.ST FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE - Six Bills were passed during Monday's (Feb 29) Parliament sitting, with the longest debate on amendments to the Women's Charter, such as allowing incapacitated men to apply for spousal maintenance.

The Bills were debated following parliamentary questions on topics such as petrol prices, the upcoming National Day Parade (NDP) at the new National Stadium, and plans for the Cross Island Line.

1. 'No collusion' in petrol pricing

A study by the Competition Commission of Singapore found no evidence of collusion in retail petrol pricing, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

From Jan 1, 2010 to Jan 31, 2016, the study found that listed prices for Octane 95 petrol moved in tandem with the prices which petrol companies paid for refined petrol.

But MPs Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) and Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC) called for the relaxation of the rule that the fuel tanks of vehicles leaving Singapore must be at least three-quarters full, to raise competition among petrol retailers here.

2. Cross Island Line to have about 30 stations, 600,000 trips daily


View of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve from Jelutong Tower. PHOTO: ST FILE

The 50km, island-spanning Cross Island Line (CRL) will be an "important" part of the MRT network, with most of its 30 stations to be interchanges, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed.

It will serve areas such as Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Sin Ming, Bukit Timah, Clementi and West Coast, and support at least 600,000 trips daily, he added.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera asked about the line, which has sparked debate over two possible alignments of a certain stretch, one of which runs under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Further studies on the project's impact are planned and will take four to five years to complete, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

3. NDP 2016 to cost $39.4 million, allow bigger crowds


This year's NDP will be staged at the National Stadium in the Sports Hub and will cost $39.4 million. PHOTO: ST FILE

It will cost $39.4 million to stage this year's NDP at the new National Stadium, more than double the budget of previous parades at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

About 15 per cent of the budget for this year's show will go to renting the venue at the Sports Hub, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. The larger venue will allow 275,000 people to catch the Aug 9 celebrations, double the number of spectators previously.

4. Changes made to Women's Charter

Divorcing couples with children younger than 21, who cannot agree on matters such as parenting arrangements, will have to go for a mandatory parenting programme before filing for divorce.

This was among several changes to the Women's Charter, made in an amendment Bill passed on Monday.

Another change allows men who are incapacitated by illness or disability to apply for spousal maintenance.

5. Easier transfer to spouse's account among CPF changes


CPF members aged 55 and above can now transfer money from their accounts to their spouses' accounts. ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

Also passed on Monday was the Central Provident Fund (Amendment) Bill. Changes include allowing easier transfer of funds to a spouse's CPF account and lowering the threshold for members to make claims under CPF insurance schemes.

6. Patrick Tay speaks up for financial sector PMEs


PMEs must stay ready to adapt, said labour MP Patrick Tay, PHOTO: ST FILE

Amid uncertainty in the financial sector, Singapore's professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in the industry must stay ready to adapt, resilient in the face of setbacks, and relevant, by picking up new skills, said labour MP Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) in an adjournment motion.

He proposed moves such as linking pre-employment courses with training programmes, so that students can be ready for the job even before they enter the industry.