It is a given in Singapore that a strong work ethic, combined with regular Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings, holds the key to a person’s financial security, not least after retirement. Generations of Singaporeans have thrived on this principle, which wisely avoids the well-meaning but ultimately unsustainable welfarism that was practised in some countries. Most of them have retreated from the idea that the state can fulfil individual economic needs indefinitely without citizens playing their role as workers and without the instinctive thrift that prepares them for economic exigencies. However, the Singapore work model came into its own during a relatively stable era of employment. Those times have passed into an age when the world of work is beset by structural change, witnessed in rapid technological change that leads to industrial disruption and dislocation even as it creates new opportunities.
In this context, Singaporeans would take heart from Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s assurance on Monday that citizens should be able to meet their basic retirement needs so long as they work and make regular CPF contributions. Speaking at the Singapore Perspectives conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), he added that the Government would find ways to take care of those unable to work or those who do not have the runway to work and save through the CPF system. Mr Wong’s intervention is in keeping with the evolution of the CPF scheme, which has seen the Government playing an increasingly larger role in recent years to help Singaporeans earn and save more for retirement.