THE Central Provident Fund savings and annuity schemes will be improved to ensure Singaporeans have enough in their golden years as life expectancy goes up.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam disclosed this in his presidential address as Parliament re-opened on Friday night after a mid-term break.
Among the Government's goals in its second term is to ensure that Singaporeans are adequately prepared for retirement, with enough savings to tide them through their golden years. The CPF schemes are meant to be a way to build up retirement funds.
Besides improving the schemes, said Dr Tan, more options will be developed for Singaporeans to "unlock the value of their homes" in retirement.
These are among the steps the Government is taking to strengthen social safety nets and to share the fruits of Singapore's progress "more widely".
Said Dr Tan: "Beyond equal opportunities for fulfilment, every Singaporean should enjoy a fair share of our nation's success."
Promoting home ownership has contributed to levelling up society, he said, and it will remain one of the Government's key strategies.
Singaporeans, especially the lower-income groups, have been able to build up significant assets through owning their own homes, Dr Tan said, adding that no other country in the world can claim such an achievement.
Hence, the Government will "continue to keep housing affordable for all Singaporeans" and help low- and middle- income families own Housing Board flats, so that they can build up a nest-egg for retirement, he said.
In addition, new housing options will be developed to encourage extended families to live closer together, to strengthen family bonds.
Health-care affordability is another area the Government will work on, said Dr Tan
He noted that Medishield Life will give all Singaporeans, even those with pre-existing illnesses, better protection against high medical bills.
He said the Government will ensure the premiums for the universal insurance, which will be introduced next year, will be affordable for all.
The Government will also pay special attention to vulnerable groups, such as low-wage workers and the elderly, said Dr Tan.
And it would go "beyond home-ownership and Workfare" to help these groups.
But even as the Government provides more help to them, said Dr Tan, it is also important to "give people the means and the incentives to help themselves".
Singaporeans, he said, were of the believe that "personal responsibility and effort are essential to their dignity and self-worth".
It was this "pioneering spirit" that had built modern Singapore, he added.
"Let us preserve this spirit, even as we strengthen social safety nets and give Singaporeans more confidence to face the uncertainties of life together," he said.