Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Central Provident Fund (Amendment No. 2) Bill [Bill No. 26/2016]
Madam Speaker, the CPF system has been lauded around the world as an effective method for a government to help manage the financial needs of citizens throughout their lifetime.
The amendments to the CPF in this Bill will further strengthen the system and have far-reaching implications.
I stand in support of this Bill for the following reasons.
Granting greater discretion
Firstly, the greater discretion accorded to the CPF board will lead to greater efficiency. The board will now be allowed to start payouts for members on the Retirement Sum Scheme, without requiring members to make an application.
I understand that we are doing this as some members on the Retirement Sum Scheme may not have made these applications despite receiving reminder letters from the CPF Board around two months before their PEA.
Can I ask if the Board has found out the reasons as to why members did not make these applications? Was there an increasing number of members who did not make these applications over the past few years?
While this amendment will solve this issue on the surface, I wonder if there are other underlying reasons which we need to look into and address as well.
Setting aside more for retirement
Secondly, I support the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Sum and the amendment to remove the requirement for the top-up of Medisave.
Withdrawal of CPF is often a much-awaited event for many retiring Singaporeans who have laboured hard throughout their lives. But the current policy causes a strain on members, when they are required to top up their Medisave accounts before withdrawing from their Ordinary or Special Accounts. This amemdment is a step forward to help increase their retirement funds.
Strengthening the family bond
Lastly, on the proposed new Section 18D – I commend the greater flexibility granted to family members, allowing them to transfer funds from their ordinary and/or special accounts to the Medisave accounts of their family members.
In a period of rising medical costs for our senior citizens, there will be occasions when the balance in their Medisave accounts runs low and a top-up is required. The flexibility and freedom granted by this amendment will lighten the anxiety of members in need.
However, can the Minister clarify what exactly are the “terms and conditions as the Board may impose” as specified in the Section 18D?
In addition, this amemdment applies to “any person who is related to the member in a manner specified by the Board”.
“Related Person” is defined in the Act as:
a) his spouse;
b) a child of the member, including an adopted child and a step-child;
c) a father or mother of the member;
d) a brother or sister of the member;
e) a grandchild of the member;
f) a grandparent of the member; or
g) any other person who in the opinion of the Board should be regarded as a related person for the purposes of this section;
When interacting with residents, I have encounter many cases of senior citizens being dependent on son or daughter in-laws for their day-to-day needs and they are an integral part of the family. For some, they could even represent one of the closest member within the family.
Can the Minister clarify if sons or daughters-in-laws can be classified as a related person under “(g) any other person who in the opinion of the Board should be regarded as a related person for the purposes of this section”?
Madam Speaker, I believe including them will have the effect of knitting the family fabric even closer, bringing extended family members into circles of trust.
Madam, these comments notwithstanding, I believe that the proposed changes will strengthen the trust Singaporeans have in the CPF system.
In this period of economic difficulties, Singaporeans will appreciate a more secured safety net for them and their families. Thus, I stand in support of the Bill.