NTUC calls for flexibility on lump sum withdrawals

Singapore's labour union is proposing 15 recommendations to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system including flexibility on lump sum withdrawals at retirement and greater transparency and predictability of the Minimum Sum, online reports stated.

The recommendations come after focus group discussions over November and December 2014 with more than 250 union leaders, workers, self-employed people of different age groups, and internal discussions within the NTUC Central Committee, reported The Straits Times.

The panel was formed in September last year to study the possible enhancements to the CPF system, reported The Business Times.

"Their feedback will be shared with the Government through the CPF Advisory Panel so that the impending CPF changes will take into account the needs and concerns of our workers," Channel NewsAsia quoted NTUC as saying.

To help workers build up their CPF savings and Minimum Sum, which will be raised to $161,000 this year, NTUC urged the government to further narrow the gap towards full alignment in total contribution rates for all workers aged 55 and below.

The Straits Times reported that NTUC suggested that the limit of combined CPF savings that attract an additional 1 per cent interest be raised from $60,000, and that a 10-year schedule of the Minimum Sum be provided for greater certainty for workers.

NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said in The Straits Times report: "Essentially we want to find ways and means to see how we can help CPF members increase their CPF savings by looking at contribution rates...how do we also encourage them to continue to work longer."

Other recommendations by NTUC are for the CPF Ordinary wage ceiling to be raised from $5,000. The new amount could be raised between $500 and $1,000 with progressive adjustments to correspond with the 80th income percentile, said online reports.

The labour movement also said it recommends a percentage withdrawal of the Retirement Account balance - even for those who do not meet the Minimum Sum with regards to Lump Sum withdrawals, reported Channel NewsAsia. This should be paired with financial counselling to help CPF members understand the impact of withdrawals on monthly payouts.