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Maureen Koh
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Singapore

Having options may be way to go regarding CPF minimum sum

The New Paper | Maureen Koh | Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CPF Building at Robinson Road.

On May 8, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board and the Ministry of Manpower announced that the CPF minimum sum will be raised to $155,000, up from $148,000, for those who turn 55 between July 1 this year and June 30 next year.

Of course, I fully expect grumbling when it comes to CPF and the minimum sum.

A year ago, there was a raise, from $139,000 to $148,000. And before that, in 2012, a raise from the then $131,000.

And yes, there were complaints then too.

This time, they were too loud for me to dismiss.

Mr Desmond Neo turns 55 in December. The senior engineer says: "I was hoping that I could withdraw my money to pay off debts instead of having to borrow from the bank.

"But with this, even though it is just $7,000 more, it is still money that I need."

Despite the best intentions to give citizens financial security in their retirement years, moving the CPF minimum sum remains deeply unpopular.

The minimum sum was first set at $80,000 in 2003, and was to be raised gradually until it reaches $120,000 (in 2003 dollars) by 2015. It has been rising since as Singaporeans live longer and inflation kicks in.

I kept hearing the same gripe during my heartland jaunt: Why raise every year? At this rate, will we ever see our money?

Mr Darryl Chan, 53, a driving instructor, says: "They have raised the minimum sum every year. I turn 55 in another two years and I dare not even calculate how much more they would increase the cap.

"At this rate, will I live long enough to enjoy the money that has been supposedly set aside to help me after I retire?"

Opposition party Singapore People's Party (SPP) has called for alternative retirement schemes, in response to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address on Friday night.

It said in a statement yesterday: "Raising the CPF minimum sum is not the only way - it makes retirement tougher.

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