Ordinary workers' debt collector

Ordinary workers' debt collector
Mr Harry Ho, who is part of the CPF Board’s enforcement and recovery team, says he is like “the people’s debt collector”. The team recovered $293 million in arrears on behalf of more than 200,000 workers last year.

Mr Harry Ho may be skinny, bespectacled and soft-spoken, but the 51-year-old strikes fear as a debt collector armed with a warrant card.

His job, which involves millions in dollars, has taken him from seedy streets in Geylang to the resort island of Sentosa.

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board inspector has the authority to enter offices without notice to question tardy employers who fail to pay CPF contributions to their workers.

How does he see his job? "I am collecting money owed to ordinary workers, so I am like the people's debt collector," he said with a smile.

In May, the CPF Board announced how its enforcement and recovery team, of which Mr Ho is a part, recovered a mammoth $293 million in arrears from errant companies on behalf of more than 200,000 workers last year.

The bulk of the money, $283.7 million, were late payments made after a 14-day grace period. The other $9.4 million was from employers which defaulted.

A CPF Board spokesman told The Straits Times last week that the CPF Board and Manpower Ministry are currently reviewing whether to impose heavier penalties on errant employers.

First-time offenders currently face a fine of up to $2,500 and repeat offenders, $10,000.

"Singaporean workers count on me and my colleagues to recover their CPF, which is their hard-earned money, so we owe it to them to do our work well," said Mr Ho, who joined the CPF Board 18 years ago.

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