Government releases new measures to promote marriage and parenthood

The Government on Monday announced measures under a Marriage and Parenthood package aimed at making Singapore more family-friendly. These include:

* Housing: Married couples with children under the age of 16 and who are buying HDB flats for the first time will get priority allocation of new flats. Married couples with children who are renting flats directly from the HDB will also be able to do so at affordable rates.

* Cost of raising children: A bigger baby bonus cash gift of $6,000 will be given for the first two births and $8,000 for the third and fourth births. Right now, the baby bonus is $4,000 and $6,000 respectively. Every Singaporean baby will also get a Medisave account with $3,000 in it. MediShield will also be extended to cover congenital and neonatal conditions of babies.

* Paternity leave: The Government will legislate one week of paid paternity leave for fathers. Fathers can also share one week of their wife's maternity leave entitlement.

* Work-life measures: Working mothers who adopt will get four weeks of government-paid adoption leave. Parents with children aged seven to 12 will get two days of childcare leave. In addition, there will be extended maternity protection to cover full term of pregnancy for those dismissed without sufficient cause.

* Support for conception and delivery: The government will co-fund Assisted Reproduction Technology treatments from the current 50 per cent to 75 per cent. Delivery fees in public hospitals will be standardised

The package will cost the government about $2 billion a year, up from the $1.6 billion budget previously.

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