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Singapore Announces S$2 Billion Package to Increase Population

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Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore will increase spending on population-growth measures by 25 percent, rolling out incentives ranging from government-paid time off for adoption and paternity leave to funding for fertility treatments.

An annual budget of S$2 billion ($1.6 billion) will be set aside for measures including state-funded childcare leave, healthcare costs and financial support for housing to married couples, the government said in a statement today. That’s an increase from S$1.6 billion in the last package in 2008, it said.

“The enhanced package aims to provide more comprehensive support for Singaporeans in getting married and starting their families,” the government said in the statement. “Addressing our falling birth rate requires a concerted effort beyond government initiatives.”

Declining birth rates could undermine Singapore’s ability to sustain growth levels achieved by embracing free trade, fostering higher-value manufacturing and nurturing services industries such as gambling and health care. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in November that he plans to unveil a package of measures aimed at boosting the fertility rate from about 1.2 per woman.

The government said it will pay 75 percent of the cost of reproduction technology treatments for couples, or as much as S$6,300 per cycle. Those with more than one child will also be eligible for the funding, it said.

Medical Accounts

Newborns will be granted S$3,000 in their medical accounts to help parents in health-care planning, the government said. It will also provide S$6,000 for the first two births and S$8,000 each for the third and fourth.

Singapore will also provide four weeks of government-paid leave for working mothers of adopted children in the first year, it said. The government also introduced a week of paternity leave for fathers.

Singapore’s citizen workforce will begin shrinking in 2020 for the first time in its history while land and labor limits will “increasingly constrain” its economic growth, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Jan. 14 in Parliament.

Singapore’s fertility rate rose to between 1.28 and 1.3 in 2012 from 1.2 the year earlier, Channel NewsAsia reported.

The median age of Singaporeans will rise to 43.1 in 2020 from 37.6 in 2010, Bank of America Corp. analysts estimated in an April report. That compares with 23.9 in the Philippines, 31 in Indonesia and 28.4 in Malaysia at the end of this decade.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Linus Chua in Singapore at lchua@bloomberg.net

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