National Day Rally 2015: New measures a strong signal to have families, says Grace Fu

SINGAPORE- The slew of enhanced parenthood measures is meant to "send a strong signal to young couples to consider having families, and bigger families," said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu on Sunday night.

"What we are doing is to create a supportive environment, from financial support to childcare arrangements to arrangements in the office," she said.

Referring to the move to double paternity leave from one week to two, she added: "What we are doing here is not for a year's TFR (Total Fertility Rate) but to set the tone that this is an important issue and that we want to give marriage and parenthood a big push."

Ms Fu, who oversees population issues, was speaking to reporters after the National Day Rally speech. During the speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced four measures meant to encourage parenthood. Apart from the longer paternity leave, the government is also expanding the Baby Bonus scheme, increasing the Medisave grant and introducing a scheme known as the Proximity Housing Grant.

The new grant is meant to help those who want to buy a resale flat with or near their parents or near their married children.

Ms Fu said on Sunday that the details will be revealed later.

Asked about how the government intends to get employers to embrace the voluntary paternity leave scheme, she said the Government will encourage "more enlightened" companies first.

"Critical mass will set the tone. The labour market is competitive and we hope that with some big employers leading the way, others will have to follow in order to attract and retain talent," she said.

The enhancement is meant to encourage fathers to play "greater roles in their families", she added.