Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Central Provident Fund (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 37/2017]
Sir, the focus of CPF is to provide for a steady income stream that can provide Singaporeans with basic support for their retirement expenses.
I am heartened to note that the amendments to the CPF Act will improve the retirement adequacy of older CPF members by lowering the threshold for CPF members to make transfers to their parents and grandparents.
Extending scheme to parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law
While the amendments are very much about technical thresholds, payout benchmarks, and administrative mechanisms, I would like to highlight the core value of filial piety that underlies these amendments.
It strengthens the idea of the family and familial relations as a key source of financial and social support by encouraging retirement planning that is based upon the ties within the family unit.
As we debate about the specifics and technicalities of legislation in Parliament, I believe it is important to highlight and reinforce the fundamental values we stand for as a community, like filial piety and how this can be expressed through the legislation we pass.
In line with the core value of filial piety, can the Minister confirm why the amendments will not be extended to parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law?
I had raised a similar point when we debated the Central Provident Fund (Amendment No. 2) Bill and was heartened by Minister’s reply that the CPF Retirement Sum Topping-Up scheme included parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law.
Why then are we now not including parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law in this amendment?
Tax relief is currently provided for cash-top ups subject to conditions and caps. Similar tax-based incentives schemes for CPF transfer may encourage those who are in a stronger financial position to top up the accounts of lower-balance or non-working family members? I have to add though that I hope they don’t make transfers just for the tax reliefs.
Older members without familial support system
Next, this scheme is premised on older CPF members having family who are able to top-up their CPF Accounts. I am concerned about older members who do not have any immediate family or who do not have strong ties with their family members.
Can the Minister share whether there are measures in place to improve retirement adequacy for this group of people who are the ones most in need of a steady income stream in their later years?
Educating public about CPF system
Lastly, there is general lack of understanding of the CPF system and its policies amongst the general public. While having greater flexibility is laudable, it also introduces more complexity.
Can the Minister share whether they are plans to improve our communications with regard to the CPF system, especially to our seniors.
Sir, this Bill creates space within the CPF framework for family members to support one another and I stand in support of it.