SINGAPORE (Feb 25): The highlight of Budget 2019 is the much-anticipated $6.1 billion Merdeka Generation Package. It is targeted at about 500,000 Singaporeans born between 1950 and 1959 — mostly those who missed out on the country’s first generational package unveiled in Budget 2014. While the MGP has fewer initiatives than the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, it is still substantial, and is particularly focused on measures that deal with medical bills, which are expected to become more costly in Singapore.

The two packages cover almost a million people, or 30% of Singaporeans. The government has described the initiatives as a gesture of appreciation towards these members of the population who lived through tumultuous times in the early days of Singapore’s modern history. These citizens, who are now in their 60s and older, are also seen to have had fewer education and employment opportunities than the subsequent generations, and therefore tend to fall into the lower-income segments of the population.

As such, the Pioneer package, for instance, has made a difference for Singapore’s most vulnerable group — the elderly poor, many of whom depend on the subsidies — as political science researcher John Donaldson tells The Edge Singapore. But such measures are still insufficient in many ways, the Singapore Management University associate professor adds.

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