Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR) has reportedly declined to a historic low of 1.1 last year, as the coronavirus pandemic has led to some Singaporeans postpone their marriage and some delayed their plans of having children, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Indranee Rajah on Friday (26 Feb).
Speaking in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate, Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and for National Development, noted that Singapore has about 10 per cent fewer marriages last year as compared to 2019.
She cited countries like South Korea and Taiwan, which known for having good fertility outcomes, pointing out that these countries have also seen a decline in TFR.
“Raising fertility is an uphill task for advanced societies, but we must continue to support those who wish to marry and have children,” said Ms Indranee.
That said, the government will raise its dollar-for-dollar matching in the Child Development Account for a second child from S$3,000 to S$6,000.
S’pore gained about 21,100 new citizens and 27,500 new PRs, but fewer than previous years
Ms Indranee also revealed in the debate that Singapore has gained about 21,100 new citizens and 27,500 new permanent residents (PRs) last year.
The figures, however, are lower than in previous years. She explained the decline in number was due to travel restrictions and operational issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mr Indranee, safe management measures resulted in limited slots to complete the final steps for PR and citizenship registration, which must be done in person.
As such, a few thousand applicants, who received in-principle approval, not completed all the required processes to be granted their PR status or citizenship by the end of last year.
“Depending on how the Covid-19 situation evolves, these applicants could be granted PR or citizenship in the coming months, and may add to the numbers normally granted this year,” she added.
Ms Indranee noted that the government will continue to “carefully calibrate the pace of immigration”.
“We take in immigrants not just based on their ability to contribute to Singapore, but also their ability to integrate,” she remarked.
From June 2019 to June last year, Singapore’s total population declined slightly by 0.3 per cent due to a decrease in foreign employment in the services sector, and Work Permit Holders.
Ms Indranee noted that S Pass and Employment Pass holders have also decreased amid the pandemic due to travel restrictions and the economic downturn.
She added that the government continues to maintain “a tight stance” on its foreign worker manpower policy.