The debate in 2 minutes

ON THE AGENDA

THE Central Provident Fund (CPF) and MediShield Life insurance schemes came under intense scrutiny in Parliament yesterday.

Many MPs questioned the Ministers of Finance, Manpower and Health on how these programmes work, and suggested ways to better help Singaporeans with retirement and large hospital bills.

CPF rates are fair

DEPUTY Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that interest rates on CPF accounts are fair. They are pegged to returns on similar investment options in the market but are, in fact, higher than current market rates.

Funds are pooled

MONEY in the CPF is managed by GIC together with the Government's other funds, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. This allows the GIC to invest for the long term, including investing in riskier assets. Net assets act as a buffer to absorb losses in years when the market is weak so that CPF returns stay healthy.

Flexible use of CPF

THE CPF Minimum Sum for each cohort does not change once it is set, said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. A member who does not meet his Minimum Sum at 55 also does not need to top up the shortfall in cash. Only one in 10 CPF members aged 55 and above are still using their CPF to pay their monthly housing instalments.

The CPF Board has been flexible in allowing members to use Retirement Account savings for such purposes, even if they do not meet the requirements.

Encourage portability

IN A speech to open the debate on MediShield Life, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that a good health-care system must be of high quality while being cost-effective, accessible to all and sustainable.

A tripartite working group has been formed to encourage employers and employees to shift to portable medical benefits built on MediShield Life.

All 13 MPs who spoke gave their support to MediShield Life. Some asked for more health-care costs to be subsidised, while others cautioned that the scheme must be financially prudent.

Healthy surpluses

SINGAPORE still has one of the world's largest current account surpluses despite weaker global economic conditions, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.

The Republic's current account surplus slid from 23.7 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2010 to 17.5 per cent in 2012, before picking up to 18.3 per cent last year.

Fighting crime

SINGAPORE strengthened its commitment to the fight against cross-border crime, amending the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make it easier to ask for or receive legal help from foreign authorities.

New families court

THE new Family Justice Courts specialising in family proceedings and cases related to children and young persons came one step closer to being set up, as the Bill to establish the laws governing it was tabled yesterday.


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