Someone asked for my views on how to improve the birth rate of Singapore.
I have given my views before. They are:
a) Make rental flats available to newly married couples, while they wait for the new HDB flats
b) Provide a monthly allowance of $500 a month for each child (up to 3 in a family) until age 12
c) Provide subsidized education and health care for children and increase the child care facilities
d) Reduce full time national service to 1 year.
Some newly married have rich parents who can help them to buy a private condo; others can stay with their parents who have a large home. But, there must be a large number of people who need a place to stay, before they can get married. By making a rental flat available to them, they can get married first and wait 3 to 5 years for their new HDB flats to be available.
The rental flat can be a basic 2 room flat, but they should be available in all parts of Singapore, so that the newly married can choose a location close to their parent or place of work. The rental can be subsidized for 3 years, but will revert to market rate after this period. It is intended to be a temporary arrangement.
The monthly allowance is intended to replace the complicated marriage and parenthood package, which has failed to achieve the results over the past 25 over years.
The cost of the monthly allowance of 600 a month $72,000 per child over 12 years. Based on 40,000 births in a year, the cost is $3 billion. The tax revenue of the government each year is $50 billion plus another $20 billion (my estimate) for COE, land sale and investment income. The $3 billion represents less than 5% of the total revenue.
If the monthly allowance is available, young couples may be encouraged to marry earlier and have children immediately .The mother can stay at home to look after the child and get to work when they go to school.
The need for adequate care care, school and health care faciltiies is obvious and does not need elaboration.
I like to see full time National Service reduce to 1 year. This is more than adequate to raise to train a solder in basic military skills. Most countries have reduced it to 1 year or less.
For officers, commandos and training of other skills, the period can be extended voluntarily and they should be paid an adequate salary for the extended period. If there are insufficient volunteers, these positions can be held by full time soldiers.