Merdeka package will not burden a future government: Chan Chun Sing

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing gave the assurance that funds will be set aside by this term of government for the Merdeka Generation Package.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing gave the assurance that funds will be set aside by this term of government for the Merdeka Generation Package.PHOTO: ST FILE

Addressing what he said were concerns from young people on how the Government will fund the Merdeka Generation Package, with some labelling it an "election gimmick", Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday gave the assurance that funds will be set aside by this term of government.

He also made it clear that money for the multibillion-dollar scheme will not come from a future hike in the goods and services tax (GST).

Mr Chan said every term of government has to make sure it earns its keep, and in the first two to three years, it works very hard to carefully manage the Budget and grow the economy.

"Because the rule in the Singapore system is that no government can make - or should make - empty promises on behalf of a future government," he said in a speech at a Chinese New Year dinner for Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC.

"If we decide to have the Merdeka Generation Package... then it is the responsibility of this term of government to harness its resources to put them into a fund, to make sure that this burden is not passed on to the next government or future governments." Revenue from the two-point GST increase - to take place some time between 2021 and 2025 - is not funding the package, he added.

The Merdeka package, which will benefit Singaporeans born in the 1950s, along with some of those who did not qualify for the earlier Pioneer Generation Package given in 2014, will cover subsidies for outpatient care, Medisave top-ups, MediShield Life premium subsidies and payouts for long-term care. The details will be announced on Feb 18 during the Budget statement.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'Merdeka package will not burden a future govt: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe