Singaporeans who have turned 55 and need cash on hand can now draw from their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts more than once a year.
Previously, additional withdrawals were allowed only if a worker had been unemployed for a prolonged period of, say, six months.
But after Parliament passed changes to the CPF Act on Tuesday, the CPF Board now has more flexibility in assessing if a worker can make more than one withdrawal from his Ordinary and Special accounts, within the same birthday year.
Workers will still have to meet their cohort Minimum Sum and the Medisave required amount before they can qualify, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin told the House. The minimum sum for those who turn 55 between July1 this year and June30 next year is $148,000. The Medi-save required amount from January this year is $38,500.
"This refers to a very specific set of cases, where the member has already set aside monies for his retirement and medical needs after turning 55," said Mr Tan.
The minister did not specify the number of times a CPF member would be able to make withdrawals, nor the potential number of Singaporeans who could benefit from the change.
Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) - among seven MPs who rose to speak on the Bill - suggested that more flexibility be injected in the use of CPF monies to pay for housing.
Mr Tan said there have been cases where Singaporeans have been allowed to use more of their CPF savings for housing. But, he added that it was important to be prudent with CPF monies, especially as Singaporeans are living longer.
Mr Yam and Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) also expressed concern over the transfer of funds from members' Ordinary accounts to the Retirement accounts after they turn 55, especially when some are cash-strapped in hard times. Mr Tan, in his reply to Mr Png, said the issue could be discussed if a separate parliamentary question was filed.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.