Call for family members to top up housewives' CPF accounts

SINGAPORE - Housewives in Singapore have been urged to ask their husbands for top-ups to their own Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.

Concerned by the low CPF balances of these non-working women, Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah advised them to tell their husbands to make full use of the higher interest rates announced in the Budget statement last month.

At a public forum held in Nee Soon on Saturday to discuss this year's Budget, Ms Lee noted that the interest rates offered by CPF were much higher than those at commercial banks.

From next year, those aged 55 and above can earn an extra 1 percentage point of interest for the first $30,000 in their combined CPF balances. That means monies in a person's Special, Retirement or Medisave account can attract interest rates of up to 6 per cent.

"Tonight you can go back, discuss with your husband and tell him that for the first $30,000 in your CPF account, you will get 6 per cent interest. Discuss that maybe it's better to put money into your CPF account," Ms Lee encouraged the housewives.

Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, also a Nee Soon GRC MP, echoed the call for people to add to the CPF accounts of their non-working family members.

"If you don't have enough, at least the family can contribute. The Government is giving you 6 per cent," he told reporters at yesterday's forum, organised by the grassroots Women's Executive Committees in Nee Soon GRC and held at Nee Soon South Community Club to mark International Women's Day.

Another question aired at the forum was about what benefits stay-at-home mothers received from the Budget.

In response, Mr Shanmugam brought up the $500 in SkillsFuture Credits that each Singaporean aged 25 and above will receive to pay for training courses.

SkillsFuture has also been lauded by women MPs, who see the scheme as helping women return to the workforce after dropping out to take care of their families.

In a separate statement yesterday, the People's Action Party Women's Wing said it will commit resources to publicise SkillsFuture and help women tap on it.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who chairs the group, said the scheme "will empower women and enable them to realise their potential in the multiple roles that they play in the family and the society."