Introduced in Budget 2014, the Pioneer Generation Package aims to honour and recognise the contributions of pioneers in the early years of Singapore's nation building. With $8 billion set aside, this ensures that pioneers can have a peace of mind with their healthcare costs taken care of in their golden years. The package was one of the largest initiatives under social spending in Singapore's history.
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I thought that Budget 2014 was well-planned and involved a large number of Singaporeans in improving their welfare. The highlight of this years budget was the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), aimed at the elderly in Singapore who helped to build Singapore's foundations of success. The PGP takes a substantial burden off these old folk by subsidising a large portion of their medical bills and places them all on the national healthcare insurance scheme, MediShield Life.
I think the intentions are right, but still feel that more can be done for them. The PGP will not help matters much if the elderly person is afflicted with a severe disease and with bills that run into thousands of dollars. MediShield Life will not be enough to cover it, and subsidised bills may still end up being too expensive for the usually poorer elderly. Nonetheless, $8 billion is a lot of money, and I applaud the government for taking the initiative to set aside this sum of money for our pioneers. It really does show that they care for the old in Singapore as well, and are not just concerned with economic growth and financial prosperity.
Given that more elderly are leading healthy and active lifestyles now, and with the HPB promoting the notion of 'ageing well', debilitating but preventive diseases will become a rarity. Such elderly will fall sick only occasionally, and with that, the PGP will be able to cover them and make sure they live well and not have to worry about the constant rising costs of healthcare in Singapore.
I felt really happy when I followed up on this year's Budget, as is my custom to do so every year. It is one of those rare times which I'll completely finish the entire edition of the Straits Times, thinking through, analysing as well as make the links of how these modes of government expenditure will affect households, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as individuals.
The Pioneer Generation Package is indeed one of the most generous packages of social spending in Singapore's recent history. It is indeed extremely heartening to read that the pioneers who helped build Singapore from its early days (and whom now qualify for the package in terms of age) having their healthcare expenditures taken care of in their twilight years. Moreover, it is commendable that the government invests the $8 billion set aside, ensuring regeneration of funds annually which will go a long way towards sustaining the initiative whilst ensuring that the government does not need to divert extra money in the coming years, and increasing taxes in the process of doing so.
However, one limitation I forsee would be the inevitable red tape. For example, expensive operations and cancer treatment would no doubt put a huge strain on the fund as they can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, multiply it with the exponentially increasing senior citizens in the coming years (given Singapore's ageing population) and soon theres a sustainability problem. Hence, I feel that constant monitoring and updating of statuses is necessary for the scheme to work in the long run.