Money is tight for retiree Foo Sze Keng, 81, and his wife, but the Silver Support Scheme, aimed at helping elderly folks like them, is poised to ease their situation.
Under the scheme, the needy elderly such as Mr Foo and Madam Lai Mooi, 76, who live in a one-room rental flat in North Bridge Road, will receive $750 every three months, according to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's Budget speech yesterday.
The payout differs according to lifetime wages, housing type and the level of financial support in the household. Currently, the elderly couple get by with $500 that is given to them by their only son every month. The money is spent mostly on groceries, utility bills and medical fees.
They do not have money in their Central Provident Fund accounts nor savings; Mr Foo used to work as an assistant at a camera shop for $700 a month as the family's sole breadwinner, until his workplace shut down in 2001.
"We are grateful for the Government's help," said Mr Foo, who is scheduled to go for cataract surgery by the end of this year. "With the extra money, we can save more in case we fall ill in the future."
Madam Lai said: "The money will really help because Singapore is getting more expensive to live in."
She added that the couple eat only at home and meals, comprising rice or noodles with vegetables, are simple.
Days are spent at the activity centre, operated by Peace-Connect, near their block where they have lived for more than 40 years.
"We like to play Bingo at the centre sometimes," said Madam Lai, who has been married for 58 years.
Mr Foo and Madam Lai are expected to get their first payout in July, which will be doubled to cover six months from April to September. Subsequently, the payouts will be given every three months - in March, June, September and December. "We are looking forward to the payouts... But we will save the extra money because we are already used to our simple lifestyle," said Mr Foo.