CPF rated 'top pension scheme in Asia'

Singapore's Central Provident Fund (CPF) has been rated the best retirement system in Asia despite slipping slightly in the overall score, an index shows. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Singapore's Central Provident Fund (CPF) has been rated the best retirement system in Asia despite slipping slightly in the overall score, an index shows. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

But the retirement system lacks adequacy, according to Mercer Melbourne Global Pension Index

Singapore's Central Provident Fund (CPF) has been rated the best retirement system in Asia despite slipping slightly in the overall score, an index shows.

It racked up a score of 65.9 out of 100 in the Mercer Melbourne Global Pension Index, down from last year's 66.5.

The score gave it a "B" grade, the same as Finland, Switzerland and Sweden in the index, which examined the retirement systems of 25 countries.

Singapore's rating put it ahead of five other Asian nations ranked - China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, which was given a "D" grade.

Singapore was ranked 10th overall, with Denmark taking top spot with a score of 82.4, which earned it the only "A" grade.

A lack of adequacy in Singapore's retirement system, which takes into account factors like benefits, savings, tax support and growth assets, was the main reason for the dip in its score.

Singapore's adequacy sub-index score was at 56.4, down from 59 last year and also below this year's global average of 63.

Mr Neil Narale, the Asean retirement business leader at human resources consultant Mercer, said: "The lack of tax-approved group corporate retirement plans and retirement savings for non-residents continues to isolate Singapore from other high-graded countries on the global scale."

Mercer has identified possible areas of reform for Singapore, including raising the minimum level of support available to the poorest elderly.

It also recommended reducing the barriers to establishing tax-approved group corporate retirement plans, opening CPF to non-residents and increasing the labour force participation rate of older workers.

Mr Narale noted that changes announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally are expected to improve Singapore's grade.

The changes include the Silver Support Scheme, an annual bonus for poor elderly people when they reach the age of 65, and having more flexibility in drawing down CPF savings.

A retirement system's adequacy is one of three criteria considered when measuring the overall score in the index, alongside sustainability and integrity.

Singapore fared better in the other two sub-indices, with a reading of 68.5 for sustainability and 77.4 for integrity.

The sustainability category looked at factors such as total assets, contributions, demography and government debt, while integrity covered regulation, governance, protection and costs, among others.

CPF Board deputy chief executive Don Yeo said: "The CPF's sustainability is our key strength as it does not burden future generations, unlike countries whose governments have to borrow to finance their pension liabilities."

feimok@sph.com.sg