Central Provident Fund (CPF) members' balances hit a new high last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, as they continued to make contributions and earned more interest.
Their balances reached $462.1 billion last year, while a record $16.8 billion was paid to members in interest, according to the CPF Board's annual report released yesterday.
Voluntary top-ups to Special and Retirement Accounts also climbed to a new high of $3 billion last year - a figure previously announced by the CPF Board, while the amount withdrawn for housing continued to fall.
CPF members withdrew a total of $17.3 billion from their Ordinary Account savings last year to pay for their homes - a 2.8 per cent dip from 2019 and a 10.4 per cent decline from 2018.
The Straits Times recently reported that more people sought to tap the benefits of the CPF last year to stretch their savings amid the pandemic's uncertainties as they realised the benefits of using the scheme.
These include more attractive risk-adjusted returns, compared with regular savings accounts and even some investments, as well as tax reliefs, observers told ST then.
They also claimed $1.05 billion under MediShield Life, up from $1.03 billion in 2019 and $929 million in 2018.
There was also a change in the way CPF members transacted last year.
They made 90 million transactions via the CPF website, myCPF mobile app and islandwide kiosks, up from 62 million the year before.
The CPF Board launched an online service in January last year for members to nominate their beneficiaries without them or their witnesses having to be present in person or fill in paper forms.
The Online Nomination Service allowed members to make nominations even when CPF service centres were closed during the circuit breaker.
The service has been well received, with almost half of all 118,000 nominations last year carried out online, said the CPF Board's former chairman Chiang Chie Foo, who handed over the reins to Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications and Information, on July 1.
The number of calls CPF members and employers made to the Board's customer contact centre also rose from 640,000 in 2019 to 896,000 last year.
Meanwhile, CPF service centres served 582,000 members last year - a decline of about 40 per cent from 2019.
Mr Chiang said the Board will continue to help Singaporeans have a secure retirement, through lifelong income as well as healthcare and home financing, as Singapore continues to grapple with the pandemic.