updated 2 Feb 2010, 14:38
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Tue, Feb 02, 2010
The Straits Times
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Be single-minded about having more babies

I AM glad the Government acknowledged in yesterday's report, 'Fewer babies for first time in five years', that growing our population is a priority.

But the devil is in the details.

First, the cost of living. With the HDB and private home index rising, homes are becoming more expensive and beyond the reach of young couples who want to start a family.

Couple that with the rising cost of electricity, food, transport, goods and services tax and education, and it is small wonder that we are way below our total fertility rate and are being forced to face the challenges of an ageing population.

The salary increment of an average Singaporean lags behind the rise in cost of living and housing.

The dramatic spike in public flat prices benefit only those of previous generations who bought their properties earlier.

As for the work-life balance that is vital in creating a conducive environment for procreation, Singaporeans work long hours to make ends meet.

Others struggle with night classes after work to upgrade themselves or are caught up in a mid-career switch.

The men are also expected to set aside time to keep fit to meet the requirements of their duties as national servicemen.

So, let us have more clarity about priorities.

If having more babies is the national priority, then there should not be two or three other priorities that detract from our focus on arresting the trend of having fewer and fewer native-born citizens.

Wong Yeow Chong

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