SINGAPORE: Singapore welcomed 33,205 new babies in 2012 and the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) is 1.29.
Revealing this in Parliament on Thursday during the Committee of Supply debate for the Prime Minister’s Office, Minister in the PMO Grace Fu said the 2012 TFR is a slight improvement from 2011 where there were 30,946 new babies born to Singapore citizens. The TFR in 2011 was 1.20.
While the government is putting in place efforts to boost Singapore’s total fertility rate, she said this would take time.
And the shortfall births needs to be addressed in the short term.
She said this is done through a calibrated pace of immigration and granting a select number of citizenships.
Ms Fu also said the government will look into some of the proposals suggested by MPs on how the country should decide who to grant citizenship and permanent residency to.
Replying to several points raised by MPs during the debate, Ms Fu said the government has set aside an annual budget of $2.3 billion for marriage and parenthood measures.
And as part of it, further improvements are being made to the pre—school sector and the Education and Social and Family Development Ministries will provide further details of these initiatives.
Ms Fu adds that the government also recognises that employers can also play an important role in supporting a pro—family environment by putting in place family—friendly work practices.
In this regard, the government is enhancing the support given to employers and the Manpower Ministry will provide more details on this.
Turning to the issue of encouraging overseas Singaporeans to return to the country, she explained that the Overseas Singaporean Unit proactively reaches out to Singaporeans overseas.
The unit has conducted an extensive study involving more than 3,000 Singaporeans abroad and is taking steps to address their needs and facilitate their returning from abroad as much as possible.
This could involve facilitating contact with various public agencies such as MINDEF for enlistment matters, Contact Singapore for job matching, and the Education Ministry for the placement of returning students.
Ms Fu said: "Singaporeans remain at the heart of our nation and are the central considerations in all our policies. A strong Singaporean core is our key objective. A strong Singaporean core is where Singaporeans have a sense of well—being and belonging.
"Well—being comes from tangibles like having good and meaningful jobs and a good quality living environment, as well as intangibles like strong, loving and supportive families, values that connect us, and a collective hope for a brighter future. Together, we can build a strong Singaporean core and a brighter future for Singapore."
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