Affordable, quality healthcare the key concern for Singaporeans, pre-Budget survey finds

The pharmacy at Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic on Jun 19, 2018.
The Straits Times

Singaporeans’ greatest concern is getting access to affordable, quality healthcare, a pre-Budget survey has found.

Government feedback arm Reach garnered the opinions of more than 2,500 Singaporeans from Dec 3 last year to Jan 11, to find out how they thought the Government can better support them and published the results on Wednesday (Jan 30).

Many people called for better coordination and sharing of resources and data between the Government, healthcare providers and social service sectors.

They also called for a reassessment of how subsidies are allocated, so they can better serve those who need them most.

Also of importance to Singaporeans is a conducive environment to start families. To that end, respondents asked for greater support in terms of access to housing, quality early childhood education and an improved work-life balance.

Other suggestions included providing more subsidised childcare services, school supplies and more outreach programmes to reach lower-income families.

Tapping a wider community network, such as local grassroots organisations, would allow these children to receive more comprehensive support, they said.

Many Singaporeans acknowledged the need for the nation to maintain a competitive edge, and suggested that companies foster a spirit of innovation by developing research capabilities and encouraging employees to undergo training.

They also noted the ongoing fight against terrorism and the need to stay vigilant and resilient, and suggested that the Government work with companies to instill in their employees the concept of total defence.

As for building a more caring and inclusive society, some participants said volunteering should be made compulsory for all tertiary students while others suggested incentives for working adults to volunteer, such as tax rebates or days off from work.

Several respondents also asked for a higher representation of non-government and voluntary welfare organisations in Parliament so the authorities can improve existing schemes.

Reach chairman Sam Tan, who is also Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development, said the feedback exercise gives Singaporeans from all walks of life a chance to let the Government know how it can better their lives. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver the Budget Statement in Parliament on Feb 18.

“The Budget is about national priorities and every Singaporean has a stake in it,” he said.

Apart from the key feedback themes, respondents said they hoped to see more financial support for middle-income families, and the cost of living kept low. Some also wanted greater transparency on government spending.