22-member taskforce to raise awareness of Pioneer Generation Package

A TASKFORCE set up to raise awareness about health-care benefits for Singapore's pioneers will be made up of people from the public and private sectors. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR
A TASKFORCE set up to raise awareness about health-care benefits for Singapore's pioneers will be made up of people from the public and private sectors. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

A TASKFORCE set up to raise awareness about health-care benefits for Singapore's pioneers will be made up of people from the public and private sectors.

The Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday that the 22 members will include politicians and civil servants as well as grassroots leaders, public relations experts and those from the non-profit sectors.

Its main job will be to raise awareness of the health-care benefits under this year's Budget centrepiece, the $8-billion Pioneer Generation Package, and give assurance to first generation Singaporeans. The package includes Medisave top-ups and subsidies for outpatient treatment and will pay for part of their MediShield Life premiums.

The Government has acknowledged that reaching out to all 450,000 of them will be challenging.

Last week, at a promotion ceremony for elite public service officers, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had said that implementing the package will be a "major and complex exercise".

Which is why the Government had set up this taskforce, headed by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo and Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Mrs Teo said: "In terms of policy communications, the Pioneer Generation package also presents a special challenge for the Government. Traditional channels such as print-advertisements and websites are still needed. But they are unlikely to be enough."

As such, the taskforce will work with the private sector and involve groups such as hospitals and clinics, which are "natural touch points for pioneers".

Already, the taskforce has had its first meeting, in which Mrs Teo said members had discussed the challenges of getting the message across to pioneers in a language that they understand.

Ever since the package was announced in this year's Budget, Members of Parliament and grassroots groups have reached out to those in the generation - citizens aged 65 and above this year and who became citizens before 1987 - conducting dialogue sessions in dialect and vernacular languages.