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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Minister: Effective policies better than courting popularity

Singapore’s leaders need to do the right thing by their people in policy-making, said Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, rather than get caught up in “the numbers game”.

He made the point at a Foreign Correspondents Association lunch yesterday, when asked for his sense of the level of support for the ruling People’s Action Party.

“The last thing I want to do is to say that we want to have policies in order to get, from a purely political perspective, some numbers back. I think the moment you start doing that, the country will go down.”

For instance, with a rapidly ageing population and concerns over health-care costs, the right thing to do was to introduce universal health-care coverage, said Shanmugam, who is also the Law Minister.

This will be in the form of the new MediShield Life, which will replace the national health insurance scheme next year and cover citizens for life.

Premiums are expected to be substantially higher than the current MediShield, but the Government has announced permanent subsidies for those of low- and middle-income.

Many other countries have universal health coverage and the financial burden falls on future generations as the cost is funded by borrowing. But Singapore is careful not to take this path, Shanmugam said.

So, the costs of funding premiums for those 65 and older is being drawn from this year’s Budget that provides for an S$8bil (RM20.8bil) Pioneer Generation Package. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Regional , subs


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