Takeaways From PM Lee’s National Day Rally Speech 2018

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered his annual National Day Rally speech on Sunday, 19 August 2018. Apart from the various internal and external issues faced by the country, PM Lee announced new and revised schemes aimed at improving people’s lives.

Support in Housing

To address concerns about ageing flats, a new Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) was launched to allow owners of old HDB flats the opportunity to vote for the government to take back their flats upon reaching 70-year of their lease. In contrast, the existing Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) only applies to flats fulfilling their 99-year lease. However, SERS offers to compensate residents at market rates while the compensation terms for VERS may not be as good.

It was also announced that the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) would be extended to cover newer blocks to help Singaporeans fund the cost of upgrading their ageing flats. Some 230,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997 are expected to benefit from the revised HIP. Under HIP, the flats will receive their first round of upgrading upon reaching 30 years of lease and a second round upon reaching 60-70 years of lease. Therefore, all HDB flats are entitled to be upgraded twice, before VERS or SERS kicks in. Consult with your economics tutor in economics tuition class on why housing is an important matter to address. With assistance from your economics tutor, explain the economic implications of housing to typical Singaporeans. If you are still looking for an economics tutor to help you with the subject of A-Level economics, please visit Economics Cafe Learning Centre’s website at www.economicscafe.com.sg. Economics Cafe Learning Centre is a premier economics tuition centre located in Bishan, within minutes’ walk from the Bishan MRT Station. The Centre is helmed by its Principal Economics Tutor, Mr Edmund Quek, who has over two decades of experience teaching Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘A’ Level Economics.

Support in Healthcare

The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions. Despite the tiered benefits based on income levels, all Singaporeans will be able to receive support of varying extents to relieve their financial burden.

Currently, CHAS only covers Singaporeans from low- and middle-income families and Pioneer Generation. Low-income Singaporeans with their household income of no more than $1,100 can receive subsidies of up to $320 a year for medical treatment or $480 for complex medical conditions. As for Singaporeans with their household income of between $1,101 and $1,800, yearly subsidies are capped at $200 or $300 for complex medical conditions. Pioneer Generation receive higher subsidies of up to $360 a year or $540 for complex conditions. In discussion with your economics tutor in economics tuition, explain the economic implications of extending CHAS to all Singaporeans.

Cost of Living

PM Lee reassured Singaporeans that the government would keep housing, healthcare and education at affordable levels. The new VERS and revised CHAS are all testament to government’s constant efforts in putting housing and healthcare cost in check. As for education, the majority of Singaporean students are enrolled in public schools, which charge only a nominal fee.

PM Lee also urged all Singaporeans to do their part to spend with prudence and save on water and electricity. Water prices were adjusted in two phases on 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018 respectively. After adjustments, total water price per cubic metre is $3.69 (for water consumption of more than 40 cubic metres). This marks a 41 per cent increase from $2.61 per cubic metre before 1 July 2017. Water prices were last revised in 2000 and remained unchanged for close to 20 years.

In closing, I am heartened to see that housing and healthcare matters have been adequately addressed at this year’s National Day Rally Speech. I look forward to more such measures by the government to further improve Singaporeans’ lives.

Linda Geng

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