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Budget 2023 debate: MPs seek more help for young couples to buy homes, have children and support for single mothers too

SINGAPORE — Several Members of Parliament (MPs) raised concerns related to young families on the second day of the Budget debate in Parliament on Thursday (Feb 23), with one MP as well as a Nominated MP urging the Government to not overlook single mothers.

Budget 2023 debate: MPs seek more help for young couples to buy homes, have children and support for single mothers too
  • MPs raised various concerns related to young families on the second day of the Budget 2023 debate
  • They also suggested ways to help young couples have and raise children
  • One MP and another Nominated MP asked that measures announced in the Budget be extended to single mothers

SINGAPORE — Several Members of Parliament (MPs) raised concerns related to young families on the second day of the Budget debate in Parliament on Thursday (Feb 23), with one MP as well as a Nominated MP urging the Government to not overlook single mothers.

The various speakers noted that the Budget had introduced a range of initiatives to help young families — such as doubling government-paid paternity leave and adjusting tax relief for working mothers — but some felt that more could be done.

On the position of single mothers, Nominated MP Shahira Abdullah said: "It is already hard raising a child alone. It is even harder when our policies become inadvertent structural roadblocks that result in unequal access.”

In all, a total of 26 MPs spoke during the seven-hour debate. Another three political office holders also voiced their support for the Budget.

Other issues raised by MPs included supporting young families in having children and in housing concerns.

On topics other than the position of young families, some MPs called for help in matchmaking singles, encouraging small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to take up grants and supporting seniors in upskilling.


This year’s Budget included various measures to help families, including:

While MPs generally welcomed these initiatives, some of them said that more could be done for young families to help them cope with living in a high-cost and high-stress environment. 


To support young families, MPs called for more to be done, such as providing flexible work arrangements, enhancing childcare leave and ensuring that there are ample childcare facilities.

Ms Cheng Li Hui, MP for Tampines Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that parents should get more support while using assisted reproduction technologies.

Assisted reproduction technologies are fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), which can help couples conceive.

“This is a very important group of people that will help improve our total fertility rate because they are determined to have children. However, they face challenges conceiving,” Ms Cheng said.

“Many couples told me that they give up because of the process. It was not just about the physical strain but it is incredibly draining emotionally.”

She suggested that hospitals hold more online dialogues to better prepare couples and also provide them with counselling to help them through their treatment. 

Beyond that, she also asked for portable co-funding and more public-private collaboration between hospitals to better help couples.

Mr Ang Wei Neng, MP for West Coast GRC, proposed that parents receive two days of childcare leave for every child in primary school, up to a cap of four days a year.

Currently, employees get two days of extended childcare leave a year if their youngest child is between seven and 12 years old.

“Childcare is a marathon, not a one-off effort after birth,” he said, noting that a teacher had told him that some parents were reluctant to fetch their sick children home until they have finished work, owing to a lack of childcare leave.


How can Singapore be a better place for young families to raise their children? This was what Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development, discussed in his Budget debate speech on Thursday (Feb 23).

As a father of a two-year-old toddler, he said that families today face different challenges in parenting than families did in the past. For one, competition in academic settings is much more “rife” today, he noted.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with striving to be the best versions of ourselves, but at what costs? What values do we hold today?” Mr Chua asked. He is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth.

He said that parents today have to raise children while tackling online harm such as cyberbullying, radicalisation, hate speech and addiction to social networking sites — something that he admits he is “frankly quite clueless” about.

For Singapore to build better families, Mr Chua said that beyond legislation, society must play its part.

“This Budget holds plenty of promise for Singapore families to prosper and flourish, but the horizon’s not without dark clouds," he added.

"As we shape a more family-friendly Singapore through legislation and policy-making, let us all remember to make time for the loved ones in our lives.”

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MPs acknowledged the various benefits laid out in the Budget to help young families, but some of them also said that single mothers have been left out of those meant for families.

Ms He Ting Ru, opposition MP for Sengkang GRC, said: “They are Singaporeans, too. They are and will continue to be part of our families. This is concerning in an age where we trumpet greater inclusivity and claim to celebrate diversity.”

In her call for an enhanced baby bonus and for parenthood policies to be extended equally to all parents, the Workers’ Party (WP) member said that in excluding single mothers, “we appear to either be punishing innocent children born to unmarried mothers, or encouraging hasty, possibly unsuitable marriages”.

Ms He added that fewer than 1,000 babies were born to single mothers each year, so the fiscal impact of equalising financial support to them "would not be significant".

Dr Shahira the Nominated MP said: “It affects how children of single mothers live and grow and their experiences during this time. It affects the possibility of social mobility and it affects their future."

She added: “Let’s not forget that in the end, these children will form the next generation of Singaporeans.”


Following a debate on two parliamentary motions on affordable public housing in Singapore, the Budget 2023 announcements include added support for families to secure their first home.

Among the moves are enhancing the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grant and priority for BTO flats given to first-timer applicants who are families with children.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, is one of the MPs who made further suggestions on what can be done to help young families on their housing needs.

Among his suggestions: Increasing the supply of HDB flats from 25,000 to 50,000 a year for the next two years, and doubling the number of new executive condominiums, which are public-private housing projects developed and sold by private developers but are subsidised by the Government.

“For young families, in addition to the extra chance in balloting for first-timers with a child, the Government may consider an extra chance as well for those with two children and so on,” Mr Gan added.

“Likewise, those who have registered at the Registry of Marriages should also be prioritised ahead of those who have not.”

Mr Gerald Giam, a WP MP for Aljunied GRC, also raised concerns about whether enhancing the CPF Housing Grant might increase property prices further — something that some analysts have warned might occur.

He also reiterated some proposals to moderate resale prices, such as providing more help for seniors to down-size their flats and requiring future buyers of private property to sell their HDB flats.

Click here for latest updates and reports on Budget 2023. 

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