Committee of Supply debate: Prime Minister's Office

Thinking out of the box

On the third day of the Budget debate yesterday, MPs offered suggestions on how to deal with issues, ranging from water scarcity to meeting families' childcare and housing needs. Danson Cheong highlights five suggestions.

GIGS PORTAL FOR STAY-AT-HOME CAREGIVERS

Many people who have to stay home to take care of their children, or have other family responsibilities, require flexible working arrangements.

Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) suggested that an online portal could be developed where the Government and other companies can list "gigs" or small jobs and projects that caregivers can take up while attending to their family responsibilities at home. "These gigs or micro jobs can be consulting projects or accounts, helping with customer service replies, or even social services," he said.


LOOK OVERSEAS FOR WATER-SAVING IDEAS

Homes in Hong Kong are served by two water pipes - one each for potable and non-potable water. In Japan, it is common for toilets to route used water from washbasins to flush toilets.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) gave these two ideas as he suggested that the Government look more closely at how other countries conserve water.

 

INTEGRATED MOBILE APP FOR ALL GOVT SERVICES

A single mobile app that offers access to all government services, allowing people to retrieve information such as their Central Provident Fund data, HDB loans, and even their medical records.

This was what Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) suggested should be developed as Singapore transitions into a Smart Nation. She noted that many ministries and statutory boards have their own mobile apps, and asked if it was "practical and convenient" to download them all to access different government functions.


INFANT CARE TO CHILDCARE: SEAMLESS TRANSITION

Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) wants the Government to make the progression for children in infant care going on to childcare as seamless as possible.

She pointed out that with the shortage of infant care and childcare spaces, parents often end up queueing twice to enrol their children in these centres.

"Can infant care progression to childcare be seamless and not cause parents to fret - queueing for a spot every few years?" said Ms Sun.


CUT RENTALS FOR COUPLES WAITING FOR BTO UNITS

The wait for an HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) flat can take a few years, and options are limited for young married couples who want to live on their own.

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) said that while the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme would let these couples rent an HDB flat at below-market rates, bigger flats under the scheme could still be out of their budgets. He urged the Government to study if couples can rent these flats at even lower rates.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Thinking out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe