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Addressing the retirement needs of Singapore’s ageing population

25 August 2011



(From left) Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head of the NUS Department of Social Work, Assoc Prof Winston Goh, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye and Associate Professorial Fellow Assoc Prof S Vasoo of the NUS Department of Social Work


(From left) Mr Ng Kok Hoe, NUS alumnus and recipient of the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Scholarship, Assoc Prof Vasoo and Minister of State for Manpower and National Development BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin

Singapore is not alone in facing challenges arising from increasing longevity. Other developed countries face similar challenges. Pension systems worldwide, whether they are defined benefits, defined contributions or something in between, are under stress. No single system is immune and we need to adapt to this long-term demographic reality. Minister of State for Manpower and National Development BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin was speaking at the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Forum organised by the NUS Department of Social Work on 22 August 2011.

“I am heartened that about 17,600 Minimum Sum Topping-Up (MSTU) Scheme top-ups, totalling around S$110 million, were made for parents and grandparents in cash and CPF [Central Provident Fund] last year. I encourage Singaporeans to continue to make use of the MSTU Scheme to help their loved ones achieve a financially secure retirement,” said BG (NS) Tan.

Besides the MSTU Scheme, there are additional ways to achieve old-age income security. The Retirement and Re-employment Act passed earlier this year will provide more opportunities for older workers to work and earn an income.

CPF Life, an improvement over the existing CPF Minimum Sum scheme, was introduced to provide members with a monthly income in their retirement years for as long as they live. Aiding older low-wage workers is the Workfare Income Supplement that provides top-ups, and the Workfare Training Support Scheme to upgrade their skills.

On the unique aspect of Singapore’s pension system, BG (NS) Tan said that Singapore’s elderly must be aware of the option to monetise their housing assets to finance retirement needs.

At the Forum, Mr Ng Kok Hoe, an NUS alumnus and recipient of the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Scholarship, presented the findings of his research titled “Old-Age Income Security and Intergenerational Co-residence in Hong Kong and Singapore.” He shared that elderly persons who lived with their children had improved income security. In terms of gender, women with lower incomes received weaker coverage from public pensions, had less varied income sources and were persistently reliant on their children.

Mr Gerard Ee, son of the late Singaporean philanthropist Ee Peng Liang and Dr S Vasoo, Chairman of the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund also shared their views on the ageing issue at the Forum, which saw participants from academia, government agencies and social services industry.



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