The Public Trustee's Office (PTO), which handles the Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings left by people who died without nominating a beneficiary, has distributed around 88 per cent of such monies it received in the last five years.
At the end of last year, the amount of such savings left unclaimed made up $132 million of the $211 million in unclaimed monies held by the PTO, said Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong yesterday in Parliament.
"PTO continues to make efforts to locate legally entitled beneficiaries of unclaimed monies, including making house visits," he added.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, whose ministry oversees the CPF Board, said that to address the issue, the CPF Board is looking at introducing an electronic nomination system in the first quarter of next year.
The ministers were responding to questions from at least four MPs, including Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC), on what steps are being taken to return unclaimed CPF monies left with the Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office.
The sum had soared to $211 million in the last six years, The Straits Times reported two weeks ago.
The savings of people who die without nominating a beneficiary are transferred to the PTO, which will disburse the funds to those legally entitled to them.
Mr Tong said the PTO will contact and invite the individuals to submit an application to make a claim.
These people include the death informant as well as family members listed in the records of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, which manages the birth and death registry.
There is no time limit to make an application, so people can come forward at any time to submit their claim, Mr Tong added.
Mrs Teo said the CPF Board and the PTO have distributed around 98 per cent of the unused CPF savings of all members who died in the last five years. Around 2 per cent is unclaimed, she added.
She added that CPF members aged below 45 who die are less likely to have made a nomination.
The minister said that the CPF Board adopts a three-pronged approach to reduce the number of cases of unclaimed monies.
One, it holds annual roadshows to raise awareness of making CPF nominations.
Two, the yearly statement of account given to all CPF members reminds them by highlighting whether or not they have made a nomination.
Three, a nomination can be made in person at any CPF Service Centre, making it easy for members to nominate.
An electronic nomination system is also being explored, Mrs Teo said.
The Board processed about 120,000 nomination applications last year, more than double the 50,000 nominations made in 2013.
Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) asked whether there is any intergovernmental procedure if a person were to die overseas.
Mrs Teo replied: "It would not be unusual for foreign governments to inform us if someone were to have passed away... Sometimes they may inform our missions overseas. Our missions overseas can then get in touch with the CPF Board. But most likely, it is the next of kin who will trigger the payouts. And the rest of the process follows."