PAP group seeks hike in CPF contribution for those above 55

PAP.SG chairman and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin (right) at yesterday's press conference with vice-chairman and MP Henry Kwek and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, PAP.SG member and a former minister of state.
PAP.SG chairman and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin (right) at yesterday's press conference with vice-chairman and MP Henry Kwek and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, PAP.SG member and a former minister of state.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

This is among proposals on supporting seniors as they work, retire and live

A group in the People's Action Party that champions causes of the elderly has called for a number of recommendations on supporting seniors as they work, retire and live.

Among other things, the PAP Seniors Group (PAP.SG) - led by chairman Tan Chuan-Jin - is proposing that the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for workers beyond the age of 55 be increased "so that all members continue to enjoy the same level of (contributions) regardless of how old they are".

While the rates for those aged 55 and below is 37 per cent, this number drops for workers older than 55 - ranging from 12.5 per cent to 26 per cent of wages. Employers also contribute a smaller proportion.

"With longer life expectancy and a smaller base of family support, Singaporeans need to be even more self-reliant in securing a stream of lifelong income for retirement," PAP.SG said in a 21-page position paper released yesterday at the party's headquarters in Bedok.

In the paper, which was submitted to the Government, the group added that increasing CPF contribution rates for workers beyond 55 would help boost their retirement adequacy and ensure older workers are paid the same as their younger colleagues for doing the same job.

A motion will be tabled on matters raised in the paper at the next Parliament sitting on Feb 11, said Mr Tan, who is also Speaker of Parliament. The paper comes weeks before the Budget statement is delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Feb 18.

Wholesaler Par International's managing director David Tan said unless there is government support to offset added costs for businesses - if CPF contribution rates for older workers are increased - firms might be less willing to retain seniors.

RATIONALE FOR CHANGE

With longer life expectancy and a smaller base of family support, Singaporeans need to be even more self-reliant in securing a stream of lifelong income for retirement.

PAP.SG, in a 21-page position paper released yesterday at the party's headquarters in Bedok.

Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng suggested that any increase in CPF contribution rates for workers older than 55 should not be made mandatory.

Besides the recommendation on contribution rates, PAP.SG also called on employers and unions to offer and encourage workers to take on flexible work arrangements, which would allow older workers to remain employed, including in part-time work.

"While many of our older workers want to, and can continue to take on full-time jobs, some prefer to work at a lower intensity," the group said. It added that policies are already there for older workers to have more opportunities, with grants to help industries redesign jobs for older workers, as well as train and acclimatise seniors to new industries.

"Where we can improve is to push for the adoption of these efforts in more industries," PAP.SG said, adding that seniors are potential manpower in a tight labour market. The paper also proposed that employers be given more help to manage the costs of hiring seniors.

Nee Soon GRC MP Henry Kwek said at a press conference yesterday that the rise of the sharing economy can mean more freelancing opportunities for seniors as well, but the issue is access to these roles. He added that more can be done to strengthen seniors' digital literacy.

On housing, the group suggested revising developmental guidelines for private sector developers who want to set up senior group homes that have assisted-living facilities.

There could be a separate land-use category for developers who want to build these homes, said Mr Kwek, so they are not competing with other forms of residences and can keep costs affordable.

Former PAP MP Chiang Hai Ding, a member of PAP.SG, said group homes can also be built in new or existing Housing Board blocks. Such homes already exist in some areas.

The paper added: "Moving forward, our seniors want more diverse housing options. Many seniors prefer to maintain their independence and age in place."

Other suggestions include providing an allowance for full-time caregivers like those caring for frail parents, and encouraging volunteerism and exercise among seniors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'PAP group seeks hike in CPF contribution for those above 55'. Print Edition | Subscribe