- POSTED: 19 Dec 2013 22:07
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the government will do more, but whether Singaporeans are able to cope with new challenges does not depend on how much the government does or spends, but on how effective programmes are in dealing with these challenges.
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the government will do more, but whether Singaporeans are able to cope with new challenges does not depend on how much the government does or spends, but on how effective programmes are in dealing with these challenges.
He said that is the ultimate test of success.
Mr Lee was speaking at the 100th anniversary of St Andrew's Mission Hospital on Thursday evening.
He said that more government help does not always mean a better government.
Mr Lee cited the example of the European model of welfare, where government spending makes up half or more of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it is in serious trouble.
He said: "Similarly, more social spending does not mean better results. We just take healthcare, the Americans spend more on healthcare than anybody else in the world -- 18 per cent of GDP... more than four times what we spent in Singapore.
"We spend about 4 per cent of our GDP on healthcare, and yet in Singapore, our life expectancy is longer and infant mortality rates are lower. So it is the results that count, not how much you spend, not how much the government takes on to itself."
Hence, Mr Lee urged voluntary welfare organisations and community groups to understand Singapore's context and adapt their programmes to circumstances here.
He reiterated that Singapore is in a new phase, and the government and community will do more to help individuals.
One example of how Singapore is strengthening its social safety net will be the improvements expected through MediShield Life.
The health scheme which is currently under public consultation provides lifetime coverage, including for pre-existing conditions.
Mr Lee again gave the assurance that premiums will be affordable, especially for the low-income and elderly.
He acknowledged community partners like St Andrew's Mission Hospital and Singapore Anglican Community Services in playing important roles in complementing the government's efforts to help the less fortunate.
In this regard, Mr Lee said government schemes cannot replace the warmth and personal touch of community organisations and their volunteers.
Mr Lee also commended the Anglican community for doing good work, and said that religious institutions also play important roles in society.
He said the government will remain neutral and secular in its stance and policies, but will continue to work with religious groups to serve Singaporeans, especially to meet community needs and solve social problems.