SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE INCOME TAX AMENDMENT BILL IN PARLIAMENT ON 02 OCT 2017
Mr Speaker, Sir,
The life expectancy in Singapore is relatively high, thanks to good medical standards and the access to affordable health care for the masses. As our Prime Minister mentioned in his National Day Rally speech, Singaporeans live up to the age of 82 on average. However, some of us may also experience an average of eight years of ill health in old age.
There are a number of reasons that would lead to ill health. While having poor lifestyle choices is a major reason for poor health in old age, some factors are inevitable, such as hereditary conditions or even accidents. As some of these problems can be unexpected, it is important to have sufficient savings in old age in case there is a need for medical services and treatment. This is where Medisave comes in. This national medical savings scheme has helped to address the basic medical expenses for hospitalization, surgeries and outpatient expenses for many Singaporeans and their loved ones.
I am, therefore, pleased to note that with effect from 1 January 2018, the maximum amount that an employer can contribute to his employee’s Medisave account (that is not treated as income of the employee) under the Additional Medisave Contribution Scheme will be raised from $1,500 to $2,730 per year, and the tax deduction allowable will also be raised accordingly. Hopefully, this will encourage more employers to increase contributions to their employees’ Medisave accounts. This will certainly go a long way into safeguarding the employees’ futures. This is also an attractive staff benefit that serves as a source of motivation for employees.
However, while all this sounds good on paper, I wonder how many employers would make such voluntary contributions? Aside from tax deductions, can we explore other ways to encourage employers to do so? Outreach and awareness could be one way to do so. As it is, government schemes like MediShield are complex, and not fully understood by all. Some employers may not even be aware that there is such an option, or they may be dismissive of it as an additional expense. I hope more can be done to engage employers on this aspect.
In Chinese please. 让雇主自愿填补雇员的保健储蓄户头，是个好主意。但是请问，会有多少雇主自愿这么做呢？除了扣税以外，我们是否有其他的方法，鼓励更多雇主这么做呢？也许有些雇主根本不知道有这个选项，当局将如何加大宣传力度呢？