Singapore

Jobs, housing, and healthcare policies bear fruit

As Singapore faces a subdued global economy, the Government has managed to create new jobs and keep unemployment low, while making sure necessities such as housing and healthcare remain affordable.

These are among some of the Government's key achievements in the past two years, according to a new report released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday. The Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review is issued every two years and this is the fourth since 2010.

A MOF statement said a key focus of the Government in the last two years has been to "provide opportunities for all by renewing the economy, transforming industries and enhancing lifelong employability".

SPRING SINGAPORE

The report singled out the work of statutory board Spring Singapore in helping to boost the capabilities of companies here - in 2015, Spring supported 22,000 projects by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to innovate and improve productivity, double the number from a year earlier.

These effworts are expected to create about 19,000 new jobs and $6.9 billion of added-value over the next three years.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has remained stable at 3 per cent or lower in the last five years.

There are also signs that housing has become more affordable for first-time home buyers due to policy changes.

Spring will continue to work with partners to help our local enterprises grow whilst ensuring that smaller SMEs
remain relevant. This will put us in a good position to seize new opportunities.
Spring's deputy chief executive Ted Tan

The report said the debt-servicing ratio of new four-room HDB flats in non-mature estates dropped from 25 per cent in 2014 to 22 per cent last year.

Home ownership has also remained high, at about 92 per cent over the past four years.

Last year, the Government tweaked several housing policies. The household income ceilings to buy new HDB flats and resale flats using the CPF Housing Grant, for instance, were raised - allowing more people to qualify for grants.

Healthcare for the elderly has remained affordable with the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package in 2014.

The report noted that over 90 per cent of pioneers enjoyed subsidies for their visits to subsidised specialist outpatient clinics, polyclinics or Community Health Assist Scheme clinics, between September 2014 and December 2015.

Government spending on healthcare increased almost six-fold to $11 billion, compared to a decade ago. The 66-page report acknowledged there was "room for improvement" in boosting rail reliability.

The number of train delays lasting over 30 minutes doubled to 14 last year, compared to just seven in 2013.

But the report highlighted that trains are travelling longer distances before encountering delays. - THE STRAITS TIMES

Singaporesurveyhdb