$3.04b and $0.72b disbursed for Pioneer and Merdeka Generation seniors so far

As at Sept 30, there are about 340,000 PG seniors and 480,000 MG seniors. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - There is a balance of $6.16 billion in the Pioneer Generation (PG) Fund and $5.72 billion in the Merdeka Generation (MG) Fund as at March 31, with $3.04 billion from the PG Fund and $0.72 billion from the MG Fund having been paid out as at the same date.

Since the PG Package and MG Package were introduced in 2014 and 2019 respectively, about 450,000 PG seniors and 500,000 MG seniors have benefited. As at Sept 30, there are about 340,000 PG seniors and 480,000 MG seniors, said Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, in Parliament on Thursday.

The PG and MG are cohort-based packages introduced by the Government to thank Singapore’s pioneers for their contributions to the country by making healthcare for them more affordable for life. Among the benefits are MediSave top-ups, special MediShield Life premium subsidies, and outpatient care subsidies.

PG seniors are those born on or before Dec 31 in 1949, while MG seniors are those born from Jan 1 in 1950 to Dec 31 in 1959.

Mr Chee was answering questions by Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) and Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) on the two schemes, including how much of the budget set aside under each package has been spent and how the rise in inflation has impacted the budget for these packages.

The Government had previously set aside $8 billion at the inception of the PG Fund and $6.1 billion for the MG Fund, so that they would not be shouldered by future taxpayers.

The funds were sized based on the projected lifetime cost of the benefits in the PG and MG packages, after accounting for inflation and interest accrued. Mr Chee said this ensured the Government honours its commitment to PG and MG seniors, regardless of future economic or fiscal circumstances.

“The Government will monitor the situation and if necessary, we will top up these funds to honour the commitments to our PG and MG seniors,” he said, adding that this is part of its efforts to prepare Singapore for an ageing society.

In recent years, both packages have had their benefits enhanced, such as with the introduction of the additional participation incentives for PG and MG seniors who join CareShield Life by Dec 31 in 2023, and higher annual MediSave top-ups for PG seniors from 2021 onwards.

The Ministry of Finance and the Health Ministry will review the sufficiency of the PG and MG funds every year, added Mr Chee.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) asked if it was possible to redirect the balances in these funds to enhance the Silver Support package, which provides the bottom one-third of Singaporeans aged 65 and above with a quarterly cash payout.

Mr Chee replied that Silver Support is a very different scheme from the PG and MG packages. While Silver Support is a structural scheme to help seniors without enough lifetime earnings and CPF savings for their retirement, the PG and MG packages are cohort-based schemes to provide an earlier generation of Singaporeans peace of mind over healthcare costs.

“For Silver Support, we have been regularly reviewing the amount, and also the criteria, to see how we can help our seniors who need this assistance when they retire,” he said.

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