There are at least three groups of citizens who have yet to benefit much from the implementation of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Life scheme.
First, there are the self-employed who do not contribute to their CPF accounts regularly due to unstable income.
The second group would be those who have dropped out of the workforce due to health issues or who stop work temporarily due to family commitments.
The third group would be those who are less fortunate, or are mentally or physically challenged.
For the first group, the authorities could explore incentivising the self-employed to make regular CPF contributions, to help build up their retirement nest egg.
While we acknowledge that funding retirement is an individual's responsibility, the second and third groups deserve attention and some form of viable assistance.
The authorities could encourage working spouses to deposit a small percentage of their monthly salaries into the CPF accounts of their non-working partners. The amount may be small, but will grow over the years due to interest.
Ways could be explored to assist those whose health or time does not permit them to engage in full-time employment - perhaps through part-time or flexi-time work.
With the existing income supplement measures in place, one may be able to generate a decent total income over the years.
Big businesses can play an active part by having a small portion of their employees work part-time or flexi-time, especially workers with young children who still need much care and attention.
Though it may require a change in employers' mindsets, such a move may even help to reduce overhead costs while keeping the business productive and competitive.
Charitable organisations can also chip in to help the less fortunate and the mentally or physically challenged find suitable jobs. The authorities could explore something similar to the Workfare Income Supplement scheme to help this vulnerable group accumulate some CPF savings for their retirement.
Last but not least, while everyone has expressed concerns over CPF retirement adequacy, we must remember to be thrifty, spend within our means and save for a rainy day.
Lim Lih Mei (Ms)
This article was published on Aug 4 in The Straits Times.
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