CPF advisory panel to submit ideas on flexibility and more

The panel tasked with studying ways to make the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system more flexible will not only submit its official recommendations on flexibility this week, but also give ideas on other areas of concern, said its chairman Tan Chorh Chuan.

"In the spirit of looking at this in a somewhat broader way, we will make some suggestions and proposals on these (areas) as well," he said in an interview last Friday.

These could include ideas to help people who do not accumulate enough to meet the Minimum Sum in their CPF accounts, such as housewives.

Helping CPF members to collect enough savings is also something that the labour movement is concerned about.

Two weeks ago, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) released a list of 15 suggestions on the CPF, the national savings plan.

On ways to help CPF members accumulate savings, the NTUC had suggested ideas such as raising CPF rates and allowing more workers to benefit from the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme.

Commenting on the NTUC suggestions for the first time, Professor Tan called them "very comprehensive and well thought through".

Of the NTUC proposals which fell within the panel's scope, many were fairly well aligned with the panel's discussions and public feedback at focus group discussions, he added.

"We've looked at the recommendations quite carefully together with the other feedback we've got and they have contributed to helping us shape our recommendations on the first two (terms of reference)," he said.

He was referring to the first two of four issues that the panel has been assigned to tackle.

The first two are how to adjust the Minimum Sum for future retirees, and the amount and conditions for lump-sum withdrawals at the draw-down age.

Besides the NTUC and members of the public, the panel also received feedback from two groups of risk assessment and investment management professionals. These were the Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) and the Investment Management Association of Singapore.

When contacted, the SAS did not provide details about its paper, which it submitted to the panel last December. Members of its council plan to meet the panel to discuss the proposals.

While the panel will give broader suggestions, Prof Tan stressed that its official recommendations have to be within the scope of what it was tasked to study. "It's not a panel to review the entire CPF," he said.

"There are many, many potential things you could look at within the CPF, but (creating greater flexibility in the system) was one of the major elements that there was a lot of public interest in which the panel is working to try to help address."


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