Singapore — There should be a more level playing field for single unwed parents, Mr Louis Ng, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said in Parliament on Friday (Feb 28).
Speaking during the Committee of Supply debate on the Ministry of Finance, Mr Ng urged the Government to extend to these people the provisions of the Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR) and the Working Mother’s Child Relief (WMCR).
According to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, the PTR is only available to married, divorced or widowed parents, while the WMCR is for married women.
Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said in reply to Mr Ng that Government support is provided to all children, regardless of the marital status of their parents. He said, however, that financial help for parents is intended for those who are married and that there will invariably be a gradient that leans towards promoting marriage.
Mr Ng felt that there were contradictions in Government policy towards unwed single parents. He said: “We have the Ministry of National Development that is saying that every mother and every father is equal, it doesn’t really matter whether the child is born out of marriage.”
However, based on the current Government support packages, “we’re now saying that they’re not equal, that because the child was born outside of marriage, they would not qualify” for the PTR and WMCR.
Mr Ng asked if the tax rebates, such as the S$20,000 per child provided by the PTR, was a policy designed to stop individuals from conceiving out of wedlock, reported todayonline.com. “I doubt this will be a deterrence unless just before they have sex, they think about the Parenthood Tax Rebate and Working Mother’s Child Relief, which we know … won’t happen,” he said to laughter from MPs.
“We are not fighting the money here, we are fighting the stigma and discrimination,” said Mr Ng. He hoped that the Ministry of Finance would consider extending such support to single parents in the 2020 “Unity Budget”. He added that the Budget should be “for all Singaporeans”.
Mr Wong acknowledged the “different views”, which will have to be managed. He said the authorities “will continue to refine and improve our schemes over time to manage this diversity of views and to address the different objectives”.
Mr Ng tried a third time: “There might be this worry that if we provide (single parents) with more benefits, all of a sudden, there is going to be a huge population of children born out of wedlock… I don’t think that will happen.”
His points would be taken into consideration as the Government reviews and updates its schemes, replied Mr Wong.