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A budget also for the future

Future budgets will not be weighed down by funding for the new Pioneer Generation Package.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (right) gave this assurance to all Singaporeans on a TV forum yesterday.

"We are telling the rest of Singapore that we're settling the funding for the Pioneer Generation so future Budgets are freed up to cater to all Singaporeans and for future challenges, including our future healthcare challenges because healthcare spending for all Singaporeans will go up over time," he said on Channel NewsAsia's Ask the Finance Minister programme.

The Government is setting aside $8 billion to recognise the contributions of first-generation Singaporeans.

Mr Tharman said the middle-income group has not been left out and the main shifts in the past three to four years focused on the sandwiched class.

The challenge, he said, is to ensure that the cost of living does not run ahead of incomes and that there are good jobs for citizens.

He is also not fixated on a high Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, saying it is more important that people's lives improve.

"The real challenge isn't to get Gini down, but... to uplift everyone so they can achieve their full potential and contribute to a better society," he said.

"You may start off poor but we will give you ample support to do well in life and for your children to do well in life."